Press Release

Education Minister praises QIH Partnership Programme with St. Michael’s College

Education Minister visits the Quinn Technology and Design Department at St. Michaels College

New Partnership involves significant investment by Quinn in Local Education

Education Minister Peter Weir MLA has praised both Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) and St. Michael’s College Enniskillen on a visit to the school this morning. Speaking as he was briefed on the Quinn People School’s Programme with St Michael’s College, the Education Minister said he was delighted to see such a deep connection between a well-established local business and a progressive college.

The five-year partnership involves a range of initiatives to support St. Michael’s, and is designed to combat the ‘brain drain’ that exists in the local area. The partnership programme provides a clear pathway for pupils to develop their educational attainment as well as the option to secure sustainable and highly skilled employment at Quinn.

Speaking as he met pupils at St Michaels and senior management from Quinn Industrial Holdings, Peter Weir MLA said,

"I would like to commend both the school and Quinn Industrial Holdings on this initiative. I have been extremely impressed with the type and scale of this arrangement between St Michael’s and Quinns."

“Other schools and businesses could learn a great deal from your experience and knowledge and indeed I would encourage you share your experience with your partner schools in the local learning community. As you have demonstrated, schools and businesses need to work together for the benefit of both the young people in the area and the local economy."

This partnership with St Michaels includes sponsorship of the new Quinn Technology & Design Department with financial assistance towards the department’s capital investment programme, as well as a range of other support initiatives such as bursary awards for the top GCSE Engineering and top GCSE Technology & Design, paid work placements for year 13 pupils as well as on-site support from the experienced technical team in Quinn. Over the summer the company also launched its apprenticeship and graduate programmes, all part of its overall commitment to developing Fermanagh into a Centre of Excellence for manufacturing and construction. During the visit the Minister took the opportunity to watch Technology students working on projects.

Continuing the Minister said:

“Schools have a great deal of flexibility in how they deliver the statutory curriculum, including the range of subjects and types of courses and qualifications they can offer. However, schools can benefit greatly from the input of local employers when it comes to designing their curricular offer.

“Working together, schools and employers can ensure that learners are provided with opportunities to acquire appropriate, in demand skills that can lead to employment.”

Education Minister praises the QIH Schools Partnership Programme at St. Michaels College

After meeting the Education Minister, Kevin Lunney, COO of QIH said that the Minister had encouraged both the school and Quinn to deepen their relationship as an exemplar on a national scale.

“The Minister was clearly supportive of what we are trying to do with St. Michaels and believed that the initiative can have a positive influence on business engagement with educational institutions here in Northern Ireland and beyond. He encouraged QIH to deepen the relationship and to ensure that we retain connections with the department going forward. We feel that this initiative highlights the deep connection which Quinn has with the local community and reflects our desire to offer high quality careers to young people from the local area. We would like to thank the Minister for his attendance and his encouragement.”

St. Michael’s College Principal Mark Henry said,

“Since we opened our new Technology and Design Centre of Excellence we have been greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm of the pupils who have embraced the exciting new opportunities which we now are able to offer them. The Minister was clearly impressed with what has been achieved to date and we now look forward to further developing the relationship. We think that other parts of Northern Ireland and indeed the UK and Irish Republic may find what we are doing inspiring and there is clearly a hugely positive sense of momentum with this initiative”.

In a further comment from the school partnership coordinators, Mr Seán Carlin and Mr Connor Mc Barron, said the following,

“We hope that from the insight that DE has now gained about the merits of a partnership such as this that they will now support us in setting up additional partnerships with other local companies to offer our pupils the best possible line of sight into the world of work”.

Research commissioned by the then Fermanagh District Council in response to the “Independent Review of Economic Policy (DETI & Invest NI 2009) highlighted the problem of economic export of local talent, whilst a further ETI report showed the need for a clear “line of sight” into employment from education. What this partnership is aiming to do is to address the “brain drain” of talent from Fermanagh and provide pupils with better Labour Market Information (LMI) in the local area that allows them to see the options available to them in the local economy.

Barry Turley
Tel: 02890 737256 or on (0044) 7734 256318353

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