Young people from all over Derry were presented with certificates for completing a course focused on helping them to find employment, in The Playhouse theatre in Artillery Street on Friday afternoon.
Thomas Gordon, (25), from Ballymagroarty and Kyle Martin, (23), from the Waterside picked up their (Open College Network Northern Ireland) OCNNI and Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) Essential Skills certificates after completing the ‘Artskills’ project.
Digital photography, web design and creative writing are but a few of the topics on the ‘Artskills’ agenda and since taking part in the project, Thomas has secured employment developing photographs in a local chemist.
“I would definitely recommend this course to other people who are struggling to find work,” said Thomas.
“I’d already completed a degree in Design at university but the ‘Artskills’ project definitely helped me to improve my confidence and it also helped me to become aware of what employers are looking for when they want to recruit a new employee.”
Friday’s gathering was also the official launch of the new ‘Artskills’ logo which was designed by Thomas.
“I am delighted to see something I designed on show. Since completing the ‘Artskills’ project I have done some freelance design work.
“I’ve really benefited from taking part in the ‘Artskills’ project. It’s helped me to identify what it is I want to do with my life and it has stopped me from deviating.”
Michael O’Donnell is 18 years-old and is originally from Madagascar. Michael lives near Bishop Street and has dreams of someday becoming a pilot.
Michael said taking part in the ‘Artskills’ project not only introduced him to the concept of web-design but it has helped him to improve his English.
“The first language of Madagascar is French so I thought the ‘Artskills’ project would be a perfect way for me to try and improve upon my language skills,” said Michael in perfect English.
“I was born and raised in Madagascar. I lived there until I was 16 or 17 and moved to Derry a few years ago - I really like it here.
“The other thing that I liked about the ‘Artskills’ project is that it has helped me to meet new people and it’s great fun here too.
“I have really enjoyed learning about how to take proper photographs and I have especially enjoyed learning about web-design.”
Thirty-two year-old Limavady man Martin Harkin, took part in the ‘Artskills’ project through an outreach project held in Ballykelly.
Martin is working towards a career in administration but said that taking part in the ‘Artskills’ project has given him the belief to write a novel.
“I would recommend this project to anyone - it’s really help to improve my confidence.
“I started writing my book about a year before I registered on the ‘Artskills’ project but after completing the creative writing aspect of the programme I started working on the book again.
“It’s a Sci-Fi novel and it’s called ‘Travel Agents and Plutonians’. If everything goes according to plan, my book will be published this summer.”
After the certificates had been presented and the ‘Artskills’ logo launched, the showcase then became a careers day.
Guest speakers included J.P. Conaghan and David Harkin. Both J.P. and David completed a similar project to ‘Artskills’ and both have gone on to secure employment in the creative industries.
Kevin Condren, Careers Advisor - ‘Jobs For Us’, who are based in Butcher Street, attended Friday’s event and spoke to all of the ‘Artskills’ participants about how to secure a job after gaining qualifications.
“Projects such as ‘Artskills’ are very important because it’s through projects such as these that people are able to get the qualifications they need,” said Kevin.
“However, learning about interview skills and how to write a C.V. etc. are equally as important as gaining qualifications - there’s not much point in having the qualifications if you don’t know how to go about securing a job.”
Emma Jane Logue is ‘Artskills’ co-ordinator. Emma praised all of those who received certificates and added that she was excited at having added a careers day to this year’s ‘Artskills’ project.
We are delighted to be able to present Kyle Martin, Rachel Keys and Thomas Gordon with their ‘Artskills’ certificates.
“The careers day also showcased the new ‘Artskills’ logo, which has been designed by ‘Artksills’ participant Thomas Gordon,” she added.
“The careers day is a new approach for the ‘Artskills’ project, it has helped to address the all-round experience of the participant from when they join to when they leave the programme.
“We hope this aspect will give them new skills, approaches and confidence to begin their journey into their respective careers.”
‘Artskills’ is funded by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL), the European Social Fund and the Arts Council for Northern Ireland.