Jordan McNulty has hopes of some day making his way in the world as a professional chef. Teenager Jordan is from the ‘Top of the Hill’ area in the Waterside and is working towards his dream with Customised Training Services (C.T.S.) in the Shared Future Building in Cityview Park in the Waterside.
Jordan left St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s College, Claudy after his GCSEs; he said that mainstream education was not something he aspired towards and is thankful for the chance he has been given to realise his dream of becoming a chef.
“School just wasn’t for me. It was a combination of many things if I am honest, but since coming to C.T.S. I have completely changed how I see things. The staff at C.T.S. are here to help us all get our qualifications in English, Mathematics and I.C.T. We’re training for success,” explained Jordan.
C.T.S. works with young people aged between 16 and 18 years of age. One of the programmes offered is called ‘The Training For Success’ programme. It gives young school leavers who may have poor essential skills (English, Mathematics and I.C.T.) grades the chance to improve and achieve better results.
C.T.S. gives young people the opportunity to then specialise in a vocational training scheme i.e. retail, catering, hairdressing or construction.
Emma-Lee Goan often imagines she’ll be working as a make-up artist in the future.
Emma, like Jordan, attends C.T.S. and despite experiencing her own issues at school, she is enjoying working towards qualifications with the rest of her peers.
“I’ve managed to secure a placement with Boudoir Boutique on the Carlisle Road. I go there every Friday and it’s an amazing place to work.
“So, from Monday to Thursday I am working towards improving my essential skills with C.T.S. and on a Friday I am gaining practical experience - I am so thankful for the chance I have been given.
“I am only 18 years-old so I plan on working hard over the next few years and I am determined to become a make-up artist.
“I didn’t really enjoy school that much but I really like the setting at C.T.S.. I am not saying that this approach would be for everyone but it works for young people like us. I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of doing something different when they leave school.
“Not only does it mean you’re not lying on the sofa doing nothing but you’re working towards a qualification and hopefully at the end of it all, a career,” she smiled.
Many of the young people at C.T.S. come from either Protestant or Catholic backgrounds. Some of the young people had virtually no experience of conversing with someone from a different background or of a different faith until they first attended C.T.S.
After the first few days the young people soon realised they all had more in common with one another than they initially thought.
Michael O’Neill is from the ‘Top of the Hill’ and is a former pupil of Immaculate Conception College.
Michael said before attending C.T.S. his experience of people from a Protestant background was very limited. However, he said some of his classmates, who are Protestants, are amongst his best friends and they socialise together on a regular basis.
“I suppose one way of looking at my time with C.T.S. is that not only is it helping me to get the grades I need but it’s helped to expose me to people from different backgrounds.
“We all get along with one another here. We are always laughing and having the craic and every Thursday night we all go out - it’s great fun,” said Michael.
Caroline Ming is a C.T.S. tutor and she said her job is made easy because of the attitude of the young people involved.
“We would deal with a lot of young people who may have had issues when they were at school but we like to offer them a clean slate when they come here.
“People can dwell on the negatives and do nothing or we can work towards offering these young people a chance to get the grades they need to make their way in the world.
“We find that if we treat young people with respect they treat us with respect and they all want to repay the faith we have shown in them by showing everyone they can achieve and they can work towards securing a career in whatever it is they choose to do.”
At present, there are 70 young people attending C.T.S. in Derry. Caroline said she operates an open door policy with all of the young people and encourages them to talk about any problems they might be experiencing.
“I can’t speak highly enough about the young people at C.T.S. They are great to work with and they all work hard and are determined to achieve.
“The whole ethos of C.T.S. is to help young people who are no longer in mainstream education see that they still have a chance at achieving and attaining success.
“It’s important for people to realise that not all young people feel that studying and doing exams is for them.
“Some young people react better when they are exposed to practical learning. That’s why we offer the young people the chance to experience as many different possible jobs or careers here.
“The other great thing about C.T.S. is that it offers young people living in the Waterside the opportunity to study on their doorstep. It can be costly for young people to travel the whole way into the city centre so this is an alternative for them.
“And you’ve heard the young people say themselves, attending C.T.S. has given them the chance to mix with others from different backgrounds and faiths - that has to be seen as a positive step,” smiled Caroline.
Customised Training Services is funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (D.E.L.)
For more information or to register for September visit www. customizedtraining.co.uk or telephone 02871 34 5533.