Ballymena Rally For a Future initiative secures backing of leading training agency

Derek Thompson ETT

Backing Rally For A Future: Back Row (l-r) – Jackie Pollock (Unite), Derek Thompson (ETT), Niall Smyth (P&L Electrics); Front Row (l-r) – Gavin Murray (CMM Electrics), Aaron Scullion (A Bonar & Co), Jimmy Kelly (Unite), Stephen Lagan (Connected Electrics)

Electrical Training Trust, CEO, Derek Thompson says “We need more foresight and less hindsight” to protect jobs

February 1st: Speaking at the Electrical Training Trust offices in Ballymena, Jimmy Kelly, Unite Regional Secretary, welcomed the support expressed by the ETT’s Derek Thompson, for the Rally For A Future campaign:

“Rally For A Future is really gaining momentum. We are hugely appreciative of the support for our objectives offered by Derek Thompson, CEO of the Electrical Training Trust.

“There is near unanimity in Ballymena, and across Northern Ireland, that the Northern Ireland Executive needs to do much more to support our critical Manufacturing sector. More of the same will not work.

“Ballymena was once a hub of apprenticeships but with the coming closure of JTI-Gallaher and Michelin in the town – there is little attraction for young people considering a skilled trade for their future. Unite is calling for the Executive to adopt a Living Wage floor for all apprentices during their training as well as much more rigorous enforcement of existing protections, in particular the Working Time directive to prevent the exploitation of young workers”, Mr Kelly concluded.

Derek Thompson explained the impact of the pending closures and his support for Rally For A Future saying:

“The impending closure of the Michelin and JTI factories will certainly knock the confidence of building services employers towards the recruitment and training of new electrical apprentices. Both of the factories have been key economic anchor tenants for the community and a source of high quality work for established and emerging Co Antrim Electrical Contractors.

“Their departure will put immense pressure on the supply chain and may cause many to rethink 2016 apprenticeship recruitment plans. Ballymena has been the hub of Northern Ireland electrical apprenticeship training for the past twenty years. Much of this could be attributed to the dependable activity from the districts strong manufacturing sector. During the period, Electrical Contractors have had to adapt and many have bravely sourced new markets in England and Scotland.

“Nevertheless, the rapid demise of the local manufacturing base undermines the opportunity for vital, high quality technical workplace experience for young apprentices. As a consequence, the skills and productivity proposition that we are seeking to sell into England, Scotland and other markets, is likely to be diminished.

“Surely more must be done to guard, support and encourage the efforts of those manufacturers who remain? We need more foresight and less hindsight,” Mr Thompson concluded.

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