Derry City & Strabane - School Employer Connections project celebrates 20 years of preparing students for workplace




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School Employer Connections project celebrates 20 years of preparing students for workplace

27 January 2020

A key partner in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Education and Skills Delivery Partnership is celebrating 20 years of preparing students for the world of work.

School Employer Connections (SEC) is represented on Council’s Digital, Creative and Financial Technologies Subgroup which was established to inform local skills provision and supporting services.

SEC was set up by local business leaders to offer training through work experience placements.

In the last 20 years it has linked over 21,000 students from more than 70 post primary schools to over 900 employers in Counties Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Antrim.

Skills Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Tina Gillespie, said SEC has played a key role in upskilling students for employment.

“The School Employer Connections programme acts as a bridge between the world of education and the world of work,” she explained.

“It complements Council’s commitment in the Strategic Growth Plan to promote the importance of educational pathways and promote the apprenticeship framework to have a better skilled and educated workforce.

“SEC is part of our Digital, Creative and Financial Technologies Subgroup which includes local employers, educational representatives and Council officers.”

Led by Owen Crozier, SEC offers experience and training through three main activities: work experience placements; the Class Programme, which helps students with specific elements of their course and class work by allowing them to witness theory in action and learn how industry professionals address tasks and implement different ideas and processes; and the Events Programme which helps schools introduce large groups of students to different career sectors and industries and the world of work.

“Over 24,000 of our 16-24-year olds in Northern Ireland are not in training, education or work,” Owen noted.

“Our main objective is to provide young people in the North West with work related work place learning opportunities as they make the transition between post-primary education and the world of work.

“This stage in a young person’s life is absolutely crucial to their career development.

“We support thousands of students across the North West every year, helping them make better informed career path decisions, and connecting them with employers in a wide range of career sectors and disciplines.

“Across all career sectors, particularly promoting STEM, Digital Technology, Financial Services, the Knowledge Economy and Hospitality and Tourism, we ensure every student we come across, has access to opportunities to learn more about what they’re passionate about.” 

“The 20 year anniversary is an opportunity to look back and reflect on our successes and achievements.

“We are incredibly proud of the work we have done since 1999 and a special thanks must go to all the businesses and schools who have worked with us to help prepare the future workforce and to all our funders, particularly the Department of Education for NI, for its ongoing support throughout the 20 years.”  

For more information or to become involved with SEC by offering work experience placements and hosting study visits or events, visit or contact