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NIE Networks win DfE Apprenticeship Award 2023

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7 Apr 2023

Earlier this month the Department for the Economy held its annual NI Apprenticeship Awards and NIE Networks were delighted to win the large employer category along with training provider, Northern Regional College.

The award acknowledges excellence and originality between the Training Provider and Employer in the delivery of Apprenticeship training including commitment, development and sustainability.

The company also won the special award for Diversity and Inclusion. This is the inaugural year for this award and NIE Networks were overjoyed to be the first recipients.  The company is committed to equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive workplace culture. 

The NIE Networks apprenticeship programme has taken in over 600 apprentices and has been in operation for over 50 years.  Applications to its apprenticeship intake for September 2023 closed in January 2023 with one of the largest submissions of applications to date. The company hopes to recruit 27 apprentices in the areas of cable jointing, overhead lines and plant maintenance.

John Burns, Technical Training Manager with NIE Networks, commented: “We’re absolutely delighted to be recognised with both of these awards.  Our apprentices are a vital talent pipeline for the company and with huge growth on the horizon it is really important to us that we strive to make our programme as successful as possible.  We also place great value on diversity considering it to be of great importance not only to the success of our programme but to our business overall.”

NIE Networks have worked closely with NRC for a large number of years with the Ballymena campus providing the technical training of the Knowledge qualification for Level 2 and 3 Apprentices, as well as any Essential skills training that is required. 

Both organisations work very closely together to ensure that apprentices receive the highest level of training aiming to support them in all aspects of health and wellbeing to maintain engaged and motivated individuals. 

John continued: “Our apprenticeship programme requires a large amount of technical knowledge and the volume of training and experience required to complete is extensive.  We’ve taken this into consideration and worked very closely with NRC to share some of the practical tasks required for the technical qualification which has reduced the length of the day at college from 9pm and creates a better work-life balance. Further to this, the close relationship allows an open door policy for peer reviews and sharing of good practices between the college and employer so both can keep up to date with latest practices.”

John indicated that further apprentices will be sought in the coming years: “We anticipate that our apprenticeship intake will move to 100 per year within the next 2-3 years which is a huge jump for the company but gives an indication of the strength of the industry going forward.  Our apprenticeship recruitment will start again in January 2024 and we’re always keen to have applications from a diverse range of backgrounds and abilities.  We don’t limit the programme on age and we’re happy to work with people who may have additional needs so I would encourage anyone interested to register an interest now for the next intake.”

Speaking at a ceremony hosted by speaker and broadcaster David Meade in the Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s office, Mike Brennan, Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy, said:
“The Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards are an opportunity to appreciate those who have made a significant investment in vocational education. The awards ceremony allows us to celebrate the commitment and the immense capability of our apprentices, their employers and the training providers who support them.”