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Cork GAA Legend Presents Certificates to National Learning Network Students

08 December 2010

Wednesday, 8th December 2010: Manager of the Cork Senior GAA Football team, Conor Counihan, today returned to his previous workplace when he visited the National Learning Network centre in Hollyhill to present a group of learners with certificates marking their achievements over the past year. The event was also attended by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Michael O’Connell and Donal Kerr, FÁS Regional Director.

A total of 120 students from National Learning Network centres in Hollyhill and the Model Farm Road received certificates accredited by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), City and Guilds, and the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).

The Hollyhill and Model Farm Road centres, together with outreach centres in Mallow, Midleton, Carrigaline and Penrose Wharf, currently cater for close to 240 students. The students are offered vocational programmes funded by FÁS and rehabilitative programmes funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and are supported in developing the skills that they need to build lasting careers in jobs that reflect their interests and abilities. Courses at National Learning Network are designed to meet the specific needs of each individual student and for this reason they offer a continuous intake throughout the year. In 2009, nearly 90 per cent of those who completed a course at the Hollyhill and Model Farm Road centres progressed to further education, training and employment.

Speaking at the event, Noel Shannon, Area Manager for National Learning Network in Hollyhill, said, “Today is a day of celebration, not only for those receiving certificates, but also for their families and friends. I’m delighted to welcome them here. Community integration is a key element of National Learning Network’s programmes. In particular, we owe much to the many local employers whose support is so vital to the success of the work experience and job placements organised by the National Learning Network centres in Cork. The diversity of training and experience that local employers offer to learners is a key ingredient in the daily delivery of our programmes and we’d like to thank them for their ongoing support.”

According to Mr Shannon, partnerships are an important feature of programmes at National Learning Network centres in Cork and students are involved in a number of activities within the local community. These include the participation in healthy lifestyle plans developed by students from Cork Institute of Technology and staff from Leisureworld. The centres also have strong links with the local Citizen Information Centre, as well as Altrusa and Write Together Adult Literacy Services which provide a volunteer literacy tutor service direct to students.

Funded by FÁS, National Learning Network offers the following vocational training courses at the Hollyhill / Model Farm Road centres.

Offered at both centres, Employer-based Training enables the participants to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to gain and retain employment while partaking in on-the-job training in the business area of their choice.

In Hollyhill, the students can also avail of the following vocational programmes: Information Technology by Distance Learning allows students who cannot access a training centre to gain their qualification from home with the support of home visits and group meetings. Culinary and Catering Assistant Skills provides students with the skills to gain employment or to do further training in the hospitality sector. The PC Maintenance and IT Systems course enables students to gain skills in PC maintenance, networking and other computer-related areas.

Offered at the Model Farm Road centre, the Paces programme is an introductory skills level course specifically catering for those people who have left school early or would benefit from alternative learning approaches. Most of the students who participate in the training course are in their early twenties and take the opportunity to sample different types of work to prepare for employment or further education/ training. The Fresh Start programme, as it’s name implies, provides skills training to people who may have to change their career direction due to an accident, illness, or disability. The programme equips participants with the personal development, IT and job-seeking skills required in order to progress to further education and/or employment.

In attendance at the certification ceremony were students, both past and present, and their families and friends, as well as invited guests from National Learning Network, FÁS, the HSE and representatives from a number of businesses and voluntary organisations in the local community. Following the presentation of certificates, refreshments were served and guests had the opportunity to mingle with students and staff from the centre.