South West College (SWC) recently hosted their first open day to showcase their brand new Industrial Welding centre located at Kilcronagh Industrial Estate Cookstown.

The open day welcomed a range of employers, local business and council representative and partners who got a guided tour of the facility and the opportunity to network and speak to students currently completing the welding academy course.

Representatives from T-Rex, Specdrum, Mega, Emerson Cooksown, Nugent Engineering, Four Dee NI, BSK Engineering, CDE, KDM Hire to name a few were welcomed to the facility.

Renowned for working closely with industry to generate real business benefits, the new facility aims to tackle the chronic shortage of skilled welders and address the challenges faced by employers in accessing new talent, by developing a much needed skills pipeline in the mid ulster area.

SWC Assistant Chief Executive Ciaran McManus said, “The Welding Centre is part of the College’s commitment to provide industry with the latest training and is a very important initiative for SWC, reinforcing our strong commitment to promoting and developing skills in the region.

“Special thanks must go to Department for Economy for their support and all our industry partners, I would also like to recognise the college’s partnership with the MEGA network who were instrumental in the creation and development of the centre.

“During the open day visitors got the unique opportunity to tour the facility, speak to our training team, tutors and business services teams about the range of courses and funding opportunities on offer to help employers address skills gaps in their companies.

MEGA Project Director Maria Curran said “ Mega have worked closely with South West College on behalf of industry to launch the Welding Centre to serve the needs of all manufacturing companies in the region. A skilled workforce is necessary to stimulate the private-sector growth that will bring new jobs and new prosperity for people all over N. Ireland. This centre provides a unique training facility for people to train as welders and at the same time provides the sector with a continuous pipeline of skilled talent which will help companies grow. Graduates from the welding academy are now seen as valued members of their company welding team. We look forward to working with the college to promote and develop the centre over the next few years.”

The dedicated training centre also aims to provide those already working in the industry with the opportunity to upskill. The Centre will provide a variety of competence training and assessment packages that can be tailored to suit individual and company requirements.

It is hoped the Centre will become a first port of call for business. All the training incorporates the most up-to-date technology which, together with experienced and qualified staff, enables learners to undertake practical hands-on experience in state of the art, purpose built workshops.

Nicola Quinn SWC Business Development Manager said, “Having trained, knowledgeable staff with relevant qualifications is extremely important in meeting the regulatory requirements in the industry and when tendering for work. SWC has built up a strong reputation in providing bespoke training packages to help meet the requirements of a wide range of sectors. The Centre is primed to deliver accredited training and will be at the forefront, helping to upskill and accredit engineers working in the industry.”