North West’s Quality Education Provision to Be Promoted in US

Working to enhance and further develop the strong educational links between the North West region and the US is a key objective of the joint cross border trade mission that is travelling to Boston and Philadelphia next week.

The trade mission, led by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Councils, will include third level and further education and training providers and development organisations including Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, the North West Regional College, Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB) and Catalyst Inc.

The trade and investment mission will run from 11 to 15 November. It will build on the strong political, economic and cultural linkages already established in Boston and Philadelphia with the North West City region and will be an opportunity to further reach out to the Irish diaspora.

The educational representatives participating in the visit will not only be showcasing the area’s highly educated and skilled population but they will be working to further enhance the links already made with education providers in the US to develop apprenticeship and workforce development programmes.

Paul Hannigan, President of the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) says LYIT currently has students from Lasell College in Boston attending LYIT and that engagement is ongoing with Becker College with two students from LYIT taking part in the MassDiGI summer innovation programme during the summer to develop a new computer game publication. The college’s School of Engineering also has a contract with Olin College and strong links developed with LYIT and UU with the Worcester State University.

He says linkages with the US are a key part in promoting the North West region.

“The visit is about selling the region in its entirety and promoting all the positive attributes that we have in terms of our location, our education system and our talented pool of skilled young people to potential investors. By working collectively, all of the education providers in the North West are working together to highlight our academic excellence and top class learning environment that will in turn help to promote the region as an attractive investment proposition for global companies.

“LYIT has been involved in a number of these trade missions with Donegal County Council for some time and we are really seeing the benefits of the engagement and the benefits of working with our partners at Ulster University, Donegal ETB and the North West Regional College on a united front.”

Dr Malachy Ó Néill, Provost of Ulster University’s Magee campus said the collaborative approach to promoting the educational offering is key to building strong links that will benefit local people and the economy. “The trade mission in collaboration with North West partners LYIT and NWRC provides a unique opportunity to promote the education provision across the region and the quality of the talent pool, which we know is a key deciding factor for prospective investors. It will further strengthen Ulster University’s teaching and research links in Boston and will encourage future collaboration and mobility opportunities in Philadelphia for our students and staff.”

Anne McHugh, Chief Executive of Donegal ETB, noted that like her colleagues, Donegal ETB is also delighted to have the opportunity to participate in November’s trade mission to build links that will support the development of the county and the further development of this border region.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to work alongside our Cross-border Further and Higher Education Alliance colleagues to promote the economic development of the region through showcasing our excellent education and training provision.

“As one of the largest education and training providers in the region, and the largest in Co Donegal, we want to highlight what Donegal ETB has to offer in terms of further education and training (FET) provision that can support potential investment. We have strong links with a number of American multi-nationals based in Co Donegal and have considerable experience of working closely with them to develop bespoke training to meet their workforce needs and that of the future workforce in the county and region.”

She said that Donegal ETB is also the leading provider in the Republic of Ireland’s FET sector in a number of skill areas, highlighting the example of the skill area of welding and engineering operations – Donegal ETB has staff who are WorldSkills experts in this area and the ETB was the first in the country’s FET sector to incorporate augmented reality welding into their training provision, highlighting the cutting edge learning conditions available.

Leo Murphy, NWRC Principal and Chief Executive, speaking ahead of the visit explained how last year North West Regional College (NWRC) signed two Memorandums of Understanding in the United States, signalling its commitment to international co-operation with other education partners.

He said: “We are delighted that the manager of NWRC’s Product Design Centre, Philip Devlin, will join this trade mission where he will showcase the services offered by our Business Support Centre and innovation centres, as well as sharing best practice.

“Phillip is also looking forward to learning about new developments in Philadelphia where the Pennovation Centre has been leading the way in innovation. Having the capacity to see and understand how this centre works will only enhance the knowledge that can be applied to NWRC’s Product Design Centre (PDC).

“The signing of the MoUs with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Community College of Philadelphia was a feature in 2018.

“The College is very much looking forward to developing networking opportunities, particularly in the areas of innovation around the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania areas.”

During the visit the education partners will attend a series of meetings and official engagements including the official launch of the Harvard GSD Visit Atlas for a City Region project.

The education members of the delegation will also participate in the Golden Bridges Conference.

The US trade mission takes place from 11-15 November and is funded by The Executive Office and the Irish Government.

For more information on the trade mission visit and follow the hashtag #IrelandNW19.

Image Credit: Ciaran Cunningham.
Donegal ETB’s Administrative Office, Ard O Donnell, Letterkenny.