Students upskill for the future with employability programme Posted on 21 April 2023

A group of Year 12 students from north Belfast and Newtownabbey have completed an employability and skills programme supported by Clanmil Housing.  

The 12 students who are pupils at Hazelwood Integrated College took part in the 11-week Building the Best Futures Employability Programme run by Bryson Energy in partnership with Clanmil.   

The programme, which was the first of its kind to be run in partnership with a secondary school, was funded by the Department for Communities and the Housing Executive, through the Shared Housing Programme.

Building the Best Futures is designed to encourage young people to identify their strengths and work as part of a team to develop new skills preparing them for their future, building their confidence and learning useful life skills such as budgeting. They also explored higher education, training and career options, and the participants will achieve an OCN Level 1 Employability qualification.

Roisin McBride, Programme Manager with Bryson Energy, described some of the benefits of the programme: 

“It’s very encouraging to see how the young people are already becoming more confident and are thinking about career options and routes into higher education. This programme is unique in that it has a low tutor-student ratio, so that participants can benefit from a mentoring style of tuition, which is more focussed and can suit some individuals better than a large classroom setting.” 

“The course is participant-focussed, and we work with the individual to really find out what their passions are and encourage them to build on those to progress to the next stage in higher education, training, or employment.” 

Gerard Rosato, Community Cohesion Officer with Clanmil Housing added: 

“We’re delighted to support this programme which allows young people to focus on their unique strengths and interests so that they can achieve their full potential, whether that’s with further training, higher education or employment. "

“Clanmil’s purpose is to provide homes for people to live well, and that includes supporting people who live in areas close to our shared neighbourhoods.  This programme is part of our commitment to successful and sustainable communities and aims to help these young people develop the confidence and skills to succeed in life and work.” 

One of the participants said:

“I really enjoyed the programme, and the staff made me comfortable. I am glad to have taken part and now have a CV and will be applying for part-time work. My confidence has increased, and I hope to complete all my GCSE’s.”

Peter Thompson, a teacher at Hazelwood commented:

“We were delighted to be asked to pilot the inaugural Bryson Best Futures programme in co-operation with Clanmil Housing and Bryson. It really ticked all the boxes for us in terms of preparing some of our Year 12 students for life after school. For me, it is all about informal conversations with the young people when it comes to programmes like this, they always tell you the truth. The young people have told me that they have really enjoyed the programme and have developed both as learners and people. Attendance at the sessions has been high each week and the impact of the course has been seen within their school life as well. The participants’ attendance rates at school have increased as has their attainment in the core GCSE subjects. We cannot thank Bryson and Clanmil enough and we hope Hazelwood will be involved in this for many years to come."


More information about shared housing

Felden in Newtownabbey is one of seven Clanmil shared housing developments across Northern Ireland and was established in 2016 as part of the NI Executive Together: Building A United Community Strategy.  The course is a ‘bridging’ programme that was developed as part of the Felden Good Relations Plan. Bridging events and programmes are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which relate to health and wellbeing, education and training.   

The programme is supported through the NI Executive Together: Building A United Community Strategy, which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.  The Felden shared housing development is also supported by the Department for Communities and the NI Housing Executive. £6M funding was invested in the scheme’s development and the delivery of the scheme’s five-year Good Relations Plan.   

Clanmil continues to work in partnership with the Felden Advisory Group stakeholders and residents to develop the scheme’s Good Relations Plan, which seeks to build good relationships and a sustainable community.   

For further information on the NI Executive Together Building a United Community visit:   
The Executive Office - Together: Building a United Community<