The North West Regional College (NWRC) has become the first in Northern Ireland to engage EAL – the specialist, employer-recognised awarding organisation for the engineering, manufacturing, building services and related sectors.
The ‘tech’ is taking the awarding organisation’s full suite of electrical qualifications from September.
Aidan Boyle, North West Regional College’s Curriculum manager, said his team had been impressed with the commitment of the EAL team.
“EAL has made every effort to ensure they knew what colleges and industry in Northern Ireland require,” he said.
“The guys are knowledgeable. They have been lecturers or worked in industry and have a real feel for what the students and the lecturers have to go through.
“The qualifications are that bit more innovative than what I have seen from other awarding bodies. I felt assignments were taking over the practical aspects whereas the EAL qualifications strike the right balance – with a focus on online modules and not too many written assignments.”
Two of the college’s students – William Falconer and Adrian Canning – have made it into the UK squad for WorldSkills, having won gold for electrical installation at the UK event, and they will find out later this year if they will be competing in Brazil next summer.
Mr Boyle said the fact the college was making the move to EAL shows the faith they have in the qualifications on offer and hope to get even more success in World Skills competitions.
North West Regional College is a leading provider of further and higher education and skills training.
The College’s three main campuses in Londonderry, Limavady, and Strabane boast modern and industry-standard learning environments, at which over 20,000 students achieve their personal educational goals, through full and part-time study every year.
“We are not changing for the sake of it,” said Aidan. “We have very positive working relationship with EAL and we want to build on that. They have offered great advice and guidance – other colleges are also recognising this.
“It makes perfect sense for us to go with a suite of qualifications which are pragmatic, innovative and responsive to the needs of people – whether that is the student, the lecturer or the employer.”
The college is now looking at others areas covered by EAL, such as plumbing.
“EAL knows its market,” said Aidan. “For example the wider UK domestic heating is gas and so plumbing is taught accordingly. In Northern Ireland, the market is still oil and will be for at least the next 20 years.
“EAL is working to see how its qualifications can be adapted for this market which is something all colleges and employers in Northern Ireland’s building services would welcome. This sort of innovative approach is one of the reasons why we have switched to EAL.”
Julia Chippendale, Managing Director of EAL, said: “We are delighted to welcome North West Regional College to the EAL family and as our first college partner in Northern Ireland.
“We hope it is the start of a long-term partnership that will help raise the skill levels in Northern Ireland, equipping students with industry-leading qualifications.
“EAL is proud of our close working relationships with the employers and sectors we serve. Each of EAL’s team of External Verifiers (EVs) is a fully qualified, time-served professional in the sector they support – and this expertise ensures we can provide quality and relevance to our rigorous and nationally recognised qualifications.”