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NOW Group Participants Secure Employment with Some of NI’s Leading Tech Companies


Pictured are, from left, Chris Sloan, Citi Bank, Sean Hanna, NOW Group Programme Manager, Maeve Monaghan, NOW Group Chief Executive Officer, Damian Duffy, Belfast Met and Paddy Crothers, NOW Group Employment Development Manager.

A four-month programme to help those with learning difficulties and autism with no digital-related background take up business technology roles has seen an average of one in three participants securing full time jobs upon completing the course.

NOW Group, an award-winning social enterprise, has worked with industry partners to deliver the Academy designed to improve employability and support levelling up. Delivered in partnership with the Department for the Economy (DfE) and Belfast Met, 30 NOW Group participants took part in the Digital Skills Academy, with a 98% pass rate, along with eight going on to immediately secure full-time employment and a further 13 participants currently on a work placement – eight of whom have been identified for paid roles on completion of the placement - with some of Northern Ireland’s leading Tech companies, including Citi Bank, Expleo, Deloitte and Kainos, to name but a few.


The Tech sector is one of the fastest growing industries in Northern Ireland, and according to Paddy Crothers, Employment Development Manager at NOW Group, the Digital Academy’s participants will play a pivotal role in progressing its future.


“The future is certainly very bright for our Digital Skills Academy participants,” said Paddy. “We are delighted that they are about to begin their careers with some of the most successful Tech companies that Northern Ireland has to offer.


“Our employment Academies are designed to meet the needs of employers and participants alike. We work closely with employers to understand the challenges they’re currently facing and aim to solve them by presenting a pool of highly trained staff to recruit from.


“At the NOW Group, it’s our mission to ensure that people with Autism and other learning difficulties don’t get left behind. Our employment Academies are geared towards learning new skills and developing confidence so that participants can go on to enjoy lengthy and fulfilling careers. Out of the 30 participants enrolled in our Q2 academy, 28 passed, resulting in a 98% pass rate which is just exceptional.”


Alongside the Digital Academy, the NOW Group also operates employment academies across various sectors including hospitality, retail, business administration and warehousing, all of which will have a profound affect on the wider economy, affirms Graeme Wilkinson, Skills Director at Department of Economy.


“We were delighted to partner with the NOW Group and Belfast Met to deliver the Digital Academy,” Graeme stated. “A large part of securing a stable economy is ensuring that individuals have employment opportunities available to them and that they have the appropriate training to help progress our industries in the future, which is why were keen to lend our support to the Digital Skills Academy.


“Working closely with Northern Ireland’s business community, we know that for some industries, recruiting a team of employees that are fully trained, with all the necessary skills can be a challenge. That’s why programmes like these are so invaluable; companies will be able to access staff who are able to ‘hit the ground running,’ which will in turn make a huge difference to performance and profitability.


“Job creation and skills development are key to Northern Ireland’s economy and we’re so pleased to see the Digital Skills Academy participants settling into their new roles with some of the most forward-thinking companies in the Tech sector. We have no doubt that they will be hugely successful.”


Damian Duffy, Deputy Chief Executive at Belfast Metropolitan College, added: “Belfast Met is proud to have partnered with NOW Group on the Digital Skills Academy.


“The Academy enabled students to gain vital industry skills in areas such as Cyber Security and Data Analytics, whilst developing practical skills and building confidence through employer placements.


“Participants have already secured new jobs, showing just how transformational the right skills and support can be. We look forward to seeing the growth and development of the participants as they progress in their new roles.”


For more information on the NOW Group’s services, including employment academies, visit: www.nowgroup.org.

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