Future Leaders Conference- Apprentice to Entrepreneur

Apprentice to Entrepreneur – You’re Hired!

To celebrate National Apprenticeships week (5th to 9th of March 2018) Specialist Joinery Group invited a wide variety of Industry professionals and Education partners to an information session for the Specialist Academy Applications Process and Round table event marking 30 years in business and the continued success of the Specialist Academy.

Apprentice to Entrepreneur

After a welcome from Managing Director, Ciaran O’Hagan, Group Chairman and Company founder John Bosco O’Hagan took to the floor to share his own personal career story. He spoke about his experience as an Apprentice when he served his time as a woodworking machinist in Derby, England. John’s story is about achieving goals by hardwork and commitment. He shared his unique view of enterpreneurship and the growth and development of Specialist Joinery Group over 30 years in business, developing from a small joinery manufacturing company to the industry leader for bespoke joinery  in the UK and Ireland. His message was simple., economic growth in the area is enabled by entrepreneurs, most of whom have a trade background and an entrepreneurial mindset.

Speaking further John Bosco O’Hagan said The Mid Ulster area is famous for the strength of it’s manufacturing and engineering businesses. When you look at the top performing companies in the sector and the company founders and leadership team you will find that most of them have a trade background, left full time education at 18, maybe earlier and completed an apprenticeship . I am an advocate of life long learning and whilst third level education is very important in business, Apprenticeships have equal standing.”

Economic Growth, Northern Ireland and the Role of Invest NI

John Robb of Invest NI presented data on the overall economy with particular emphasis on the construction and manufacturing industry highlighting a buoyant sector with an abundance of career opportunities. He praised the entrepreneurial spirit of companies like Specialist Joinery Group and outlined the groups’ commitment in 2017 to create 52 new local jobs. Since that announcement the company has already delivered 22 of the 52 jobs committed. John also highlighted the company’s ongoing investment in their peoples’ training and skills development.

Highlighting the Role of Women in Construction – Gender Balance at Specialist

Teresa O’Hagan, Director and Former Senior Teacher of St. Patrick’s College, Maghera marked the occasion of International Women’s Day by sharing her encouragement for the Women in Construction and Business campaign.  Teresa highlighted the commitment that Specialist have given to creating a gender balanced workplace by raising awareness of the positions held by females across the organisation from the role of wood working machinist, board director, supply chain specialist, accountant, craft joiner to operations chief.

Our ‘Future Leaders’ serving as Brand Ambassadors led roundtable debates with attendees

Specialist Joinery Group was represented by our “Future Leaders” group who consisted of our new team members and apprentices, who were very much the brand Ambassadors for the Apprenticeship Programme. The task of the group was to lead discussions with the guests over lunch in preparation for an open floor debate where visitors were encouraged to share their views on four key questions. 1. How we can improve awareness of the quality of opportunities available at Specialist, 2. How should we promote the Specialist Academy to potential Apprentices, 3. What are the barriers to recruiting Apprentices and finally closing with our futuristic theme 4. What type of careers  will we be recruiting and promoting in the next 30 years?

These questions sparked at times a very passionate debate between attendees.  Discussions were led by our Marketing Director and Careers Advocate Paula McCloskey, who herself has been a Construction Industry Training Board Ambassador for over 12 years. Keeping things on track we formed outcomes and specialist joinery group rubber stamped their ongoing commitments to Apprenticeship Creation and Recruitment.

The agreed outcomes & commitments from the event were;

  • Promotion of Apprenticeship Creation and Recruitment via social media, printed media and video.
  • Ongoing commitment to Specialist providing work experience placements and “taster opportunities” for potential Apprentices.
  • Continued commitment to assisting our local schools and colleges at Careers Events and Mentoring opportunities
  • Agreed that the best time to open the Specialist Academy for application was from March – April, with the agreed closing date of Friday 4th May at 4.30pm.
  • Agreed date for Open Evening for Apprentices and their family members to attend Specialist HQ for tours and Q&A session with the Academy on Thursday 10th May 2018 from 3.30pm -6.00pm.

Specialist Joinery Group would like to thank all those who attended and travelled from across the country to attend.

The Specialist Joinery Group Academy Programme is now open for 2018 Apprenticeship Applications. Full details are available on our website or by contacting Specialist HQ on 028 796 43021.