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Minister Praises West Cork Food Students

21 July 2015
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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, presented the Diploma in Food Industry Skills course students of National Learning Network (NLN) with certificates and diplomas at a ceremony in the NLN centre in Donemark. Over half of the students on the course will go directly into jobs while some are developing their own artisan food products. The remaining students will go on to further training in the food industry sector at third level. 

The Diploma course, which is funded by Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) is aimed at those who have been unemployed and who are interested in working in the food industry at operator level or who require the skills to support them set up their own artisan food enterprise. The course is based in National Learning Network in Bantry and has a mix of classroom-based and employer-based modules to ensure that the students are getting relevant hands-on work experience and job-specific skills qualifications. 
Work placements are organised for students in areas that they are interested in and range from large scale processors to small artisan producers. Some students also expanded their experience by training in delicatessens that promote local West Cork food, and in the hospitality sector.
Speaking to the students, Minister Simon Coveney said, “National Learning Network connected  students from the Food Industry Skills programme with companies that were willing to take students on placement and help them to develop a new skills set . This in turn provides them with an opportunity to earn income, through part-time or full-time employment, and I am happy to see that many of those graduating today have already got employment through this programme.”
Speaking at the event, Lucianne Bird, acting Director National Learning Network, said, “We are delighted to see the first students graduate from this course. They all share a passion for food, and are now equipped with the skills to work in the food industry of their choice. The range of talents amongst them is really impressive. The support of the food producers of West Cork was invaluable as they generously provided work experience and on-the-job training. There is a community effort involved in making this course available. I’d like to thank Cork ETB for their funding and the Department of Social Protection, Cork County Council, and West Cork Development Partnership for their support.” 
In addition to the above course and in partnership with Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) and the Health Service Executive (HSE), National Learning Network  in West Cork provides full-time rehabilitative and employment training courses for people with additional support needs due to injury, illness or disability. Courses lead to QQI certification and include: Employability Skills, Access to Employment, Employment Skills, Personal Mental Health Recovery (Home Focus), Horticulture Skills, Office Administration by Blended Learning, as well as the Focus Programme for people with mental health difficulties.
If you are interested in a place on the Diploma in Food Skills course, please contact the National Learning Network directly on 027 51027.