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Southern Regional College: Armagh Campus

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment and Learning – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 19th January 2016

T2. Mr Boylan asked the Minister for Employment and Learning for an update on the Armagh campus of the Southern Regional College. (AQT 3342/11-16)

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

All the campuses of the Southern Regional College are moving ahead. At this stage, we are looking to contract for the design issues. Obviously, there are three colleges in question — Armagh, Banbridge and the new build in Craigavon to will replace those in Lurgan and Portadown. I stress that, while good work has been done and this should be a priority for the Department, we are still dependent on finance being identified for future capital bids. Work has been undertaken to ensure that we can proceed as quickly as we can when money becomes available.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. I welcome the Minister's answer. What is his Department doing in conjunction with the Southern Regional College to make apprenticeships more accessible to enhance our skill set?

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

Southern Regional College has shown great leadership on higher-level apprenticeships and has taken advantage of funding opportunities under the change fund in this current financial year. As I mentioned to Mr Diver, we are hoping to have that mainstreamed in future budgets under the Department of the Economy.

It has been very proactive in working with local businesses, and I highlight the work that it has done with Norbrook in Newry, which clearly has requirements for lab technicians. That was pioneering work on higher-level apprenticeships in the life sciences. It has also been very proactive on accountancy apprenticeships, as well as in ICT and engineering. Those are the things that are happening across the board in some of our other colleges.