Essential Skills learners Awards call

Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry and Awards compere Sarah Travers, launch the Essential Skills Awards 2015.
Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry and Awards compere Sarah Travers, launch the Essential Skills Awards 2015.

A call has gone out from Employment & Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry to Ballymena learners to participate in the 2015 Essential Skills Awards.

The Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate learners’ outstanding achievements in literacy, numeracy and ICT learning through Essential Skills training.

The Minister said: “The Essential Skills Awards are an excellent opportunity to highlight inspirational people who have taken the step to go back to learning and gain an Essential Skill qualification.

“Since the start of the Essential Skills Strategy, almost 125,000 adults in Northern Ireland have achieved nearly 250,000 qualifications. These people have demonstrated their desire to get ahead, overcome barriers, achieve more and obtain recognised qualifications.

“It is this drive and determination that will shape our economy and, with the support of employers, there is a real opportunity to develop and motivate staff, increase skill levels in the workplace and reap the rewards of having a more qualified workforce.

“Essential Skills are recognised, transferable skills that have been proven to help learners succeed in education, work and everyday life and I would encourage all our Essential Skills learners and tutors to get involved in the 2015 awards. We want to hear the very best stories about adults of every background, age and stage who, through learning, have transformed their own lives and the lives of their families, the communities they live in and the places they work.”

The competition is open to Essential Skills learners from across Northern Ireland who have commenced or completed their qualification between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2014. The winners will be presented with their awards at a lunchtime event in Riddel Hall, Queens University, compèred by Sarah Travers, on April 15.

Northern Regional College Essentials Skills Manager Kathleen Mullan said: “I would encourage learners to enter this competition which recognise the outstanding achievements of adults who have embarked on Essential Skills training. All Essential Skills courses are free and can take place in a college as well as venues throughout the community and in the workplace. The classes enable learners to learn at their own pace, use their new skills in everyday situations and gain qualifications that employers recognise.”

There are six regional award categories, an ICT award and a Trade Union learner award from which an overall Northern Ireland Learner of the Year is chosen. Application forms are available from the Department’s website at

Learners must be nominated by their Essential Skills tutor. The closing date for entries is Tuesday, February 17.