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Northern Regional College Acts To Help Former Thomas Cook Employees Upskill

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A group of former Thomas Cook employees have undergone intensive IT training course at Northern Regional College to help improve their employability. Northern Regional College developed the fast-track IT course after being approached by cabin crew of the now-defunct travel operator.

Eleven former employees have been undertaking an intensive seven-week IT Essential Skills course covering all aspects of the Microsoft Office suite of programmes at the College’s Ballymena campus.

Majella Quinn, Assistant Head of Department for Essential Skills/GCSE at Northern Regional College, explained:

“Essential Skills qualifications are intended for learners who want to improve their Numeracy, Literacy or IT skills and is accepted by many employers as the equivalent to GCSEs. The advantage of Essential Skills is that it allows a bespoke delivery model to suit the learners.

“We are passionate about upskilling those individuals who are actively trying to enter the world of work and we hope that by developing this fast-track course we can provide as much help as possible for those who have found themselves in this devastating situation.”

Recent findings from the Department for the Economy noted that almost half (48.5%) of Essential Skills qualifications issued since 2002/03 have been at Level 2 (which is the equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C), with a further 32.3% at Level 1 and 19.2% at Entry Level. Other findings from the department show that almost two in every three enrolments have resulted in a qualification.

Moyra Morgan, from Castledawson, worked as cabin crew with Thomas Cook for nearly 20 years:

“It was a real shock when we were made redundant and when we started applying for jobs, it became apparent that computer skills would be essential. I was so relieved when Northern Regional College said they were able to help.

“The staff have all been so supportive, and by developing a special fast-track course the College has ensured we are able to get the qualification, and hopefully back into work, as quickly as possible,” she said.

Moyra’s former colleague Jennie Lyttle from Waringstown is also undertaking the course.

“The world of work and applying for jobs has changed so much since I left school 30 years ago,” said Jennie.

“This course has given me the confidence to apply for jobs that previously I would have written off. The skills I have learned so far will be extremely useful and I am really grateful to the College for being so accommodating and helpful,” she added.

Course lecturer Jackie Scott said it was important that the College offers flexible options to suit the needs of both students and industry.

“It is imperative that anyone trying to enter the world of work has a GCSE or equivalent qualification. This Essential Skills qualifications will upskill these women and boost their employability in the future.

“Their improvement from day one is remarkable, and I’m pleased that the College has been able to support these former Thomas Cook employees at this time,” she said.

Thomas Cook went into compulsory liquidation in September. It has since been purchased by Sunderland-based Hays Travel.

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