Top marks for NRC lecturer Ian

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Northern Regional College carpentry lecturer Ian Forsythe, has been awarded the Hugh Gettinby Memorial Award for Excellence in Construction Training.

Ian, who is based at the Coleraine campus, was presented with the award at the SkillbuildNI 2019 finals.

The prestigious award is presented annually to an individual involved in the training of young people who has displayed the highest standards of success and dedication to the Skillbuild NI ethos.

Skillbuild NI, which is organised by CITB NI and supported by the Department for the Economy, is an annual showcase competition for construction apprentices from across Northern Ireland who compete in different skills areas to qualify for the national Skillbuild finals and a chance to compete against top apprentices from all over the UK.

Ian began his career as a carpentry apprentice with Henry Bros in Magherafelt and worked his way up through the ranks to become general foreman. He stayed with the company for 17 years before establishing his own business in 1999.

A few years later, when he started doing some part-time lecturing at Dungannon College, he got the taste for working in the Further Education sector. Although he says he really enjoyed working in the college environment and had the technical expertise and industrial experience to support his teaching in the workshop, without any formal academic qualifications, Ian was unable to apply for a full-time position.

He said: “I took the decision to go back to school myself and then spent the next four years studying to get the qualifications I needed to apply for a full-time post.”

The gamble paid off as when a full time lecturing post for Coleraine was advertised in 2006, Ian’s application was successful and he has been there ever since.

Since 2016 Northern Regional College has been forging links with colleges in South Africa through an international skills initiative led by the British Council. The College is matched with Sekhukhune TVET College in South Africa and together the two colleges have worked together to establish a partnership focusing on carpentry and joinery.

Ian travelled to South Africa and said: “Opportunities like this to travel to far-flung countries are so beneficial for Northern Regional College. It was a real eye-opener for us and it is fantastic to be able to bring back firsthand knowledge to disseminate among other students and staff at the College. We were privileged to get such an insight into how colleges on the other side of the world operate.”

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