Belfast workers up-skill to prepare for major new wind power project

Industrial training specialist, AIS Training is helping construction workers from Northern Ireland upskill to prepare for lucrative new wind contracts in Belfast.

Four Belfast-workers from specialist offshore recruitment company, Orion Engineering, successfully achieved their offshore petroleum industry training organisation (OPITO) Rigger Stage 1 qualification at AIS Training’s 20-acre industrial training village in North Tyneside.

Orion Engineering is upskilling the workers as part of ‘Project Employment East’ – an initiative to help people from East Belfast find and prepare for employment opportunities. The initiative is funded by the Northern Ireland Executive as part of their ‘Social Investment Fund Programme.’

The qualification will enable the Orion Engineering workers to apply to work for shipbuilding giant, Harland & Wolfe, on a new construction project at Belfast’s shipyard to build steel foundation jackets for an offshore wind farm.

Orion chose AIS Training after an exhaustive search to identify suitable training providers who could deliver the internationally-recognised qualification in an easily accessible and affordable location.

East Belfast-born John Williamson, one of the delegates attending the course at AIS Training, said: “I’ve worked in the construction sector all my life but needed a specialist OPITO certificate to qualify me to work on the new wind structures being built in Belfast. We decided to travel to AIS Training’s facility in North Shields to get the qualification as it’s only 25 minutes from Newcastle Airport so very easy to get to and stay with its own onsite hotel. The training has been first-class and with my new OPITO certificate I’m confident that I’ll secure construction work on the wind structures being built in Belfast.”

Charlie Guthrie, marketing manager at AIS Training, said: “We are delighted to be working with Orion Engineering to help it improve the safety and competency of its workforce.

“It’s also great to hear we came out top when the company was looking for a suitable training provider in the UK. We specialise in offshore training and have seen a significant upturn in activity from the UK wind sector as the industry experiences a surge in new large offshore wind projects coming on-stream.”
Susan Russam MBE, chief executive of GEMS Northern Ireland said: “Employment East was delighted to support this training. We hope this will encourage other East Belfast residents to find out what we can do for them. Employment East provides the support, mentoring and access to training opportunities that can make a real difference to careers and pay packets.”

The project was funded by £80million investment in the Social Investment Fund (SIF) and was established by the Northern Ireland Executive to support communities to:

– build pathways to employment;
– tackle the systemic issues linked to deprivation;
– increase community services; and
– address dereliction.

Delivering Social Change is the Executive’s framework, set up to tackle poverty and social exclusion. It aims to deliver a sustained reduction in poverty and associated issues across all ages and to improve children and young people’s health, well-being and life opportunities thereby breaking the long-term cycle of multigenerational problems.

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