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U.S. Ambassador announces Bank of America-funded programme

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The announcement of the digital skills and employability programme comes during the visit by the U.S. Ambassador to the UK, Jane D. Hartley, and a U.S. business delegation led by the US Envoy for Economic Affairs in Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy III.

600 people from some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds will benefit from a three-year digital skills and employability programme, thanks to a grant from Bank of America.

Belfast Metropolitan College will implement the programme, which aims to support individuals facing social exclusion by providing skills and training that will help secure employment and broaden education pathways.

As part of the agreement, Belfast Met will deliver at least 30 skills academies to 600 participants over a period of three years. The programme will focus on enhancing the digital skills of the participants by providing the opportunity to secure industry relevant qualifications and micro-credentials, work experience, and support to improve employability through work placements and project-based learning.

The academies will support participants by equipping them with essential digital skills to help them move into employment or apprenticeships or pursue further education pathways in Further and Higher Education. It will target members of the most disadvantaged groups in society.

Jane D. Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the UK: “We are exceptionally proud to bring together one of the premier institutions of higher learning in Northern Ireland – Belfast Met – with a global financial institution – Bank of America – to fund this brand-new digital skills training program. Belfast Met will administer this three-year program, using their own groundbreaking curriculum to target to those who will benefit the most. I have seen remarkable outcomes from similar Bank of America-funded projects in the U.S. and I am hugely optimistic about its capacity to deliver the digital skills for young people in Northern Ireland need to succeed in the modern economy I am thankful to Bank of America for their generous contribution and convey the commitment of U.S. Embassy London and U.S. Consulate Belfast to remain engaged in this and other programs that support Northern Ireland’s efforts to ensure that the peace you’ve built is even stronger through prosperity.”

Bernard Mensah, President of International, Bank of America: “Bank of America is delighted to support Belfast Metropolitan College on the launch of this new digital skills and employability programme. At Bank of America, we believe that there is untapped talent in every community, and by providing individuals from all backgrounds with the skills and training they need to succeed, we can help them achieve their full potential, contribute towards economic growth, and help build strong, healthy societies.”

Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and CEO of Belfast Met said: “We know that developing digital skills in our young people and others struggling to access work to support their families is critical to fostering continued growth, productivity and innovation in our economy. This programme will act as a bridge between the aspirations and potential of our young people and the opportunities provided through the investment and commitment of business and industry leaders. It’s a concrete expression of our commitment to sustaining the peace and prosperity of our city; championing inclusion and diversity; and providing meaningful opportunities to all. We are deeply grateful to Bank of America for this remarkable gift and to US Ambassador Hartley for her vision and support in bringing us together and making this partnership happen.”

Moira Doherty, Head of Skills and Education at the Department for the Economy said: “This announcement of significant financial support from Bank of America for Belfast Met to deliver Digital Skills Academies is a resounding vote of confidence in our aim to maximise the potential of our local skills base. The 10x Economic Vision for Northern Ireland envisages growing our economy through a decade of innovation, and the associated 10x Skills Strategy is a key element of making this vision a reality. We want to break down barriers to learning for everyone in society, no matter what their background, and these academies will give participants the tools they need to access the learning pathways that will deliver their best and most fulfilling career options. I look forward to seeing the academies commence and begin helping participants boost their employability and overall life chances.”

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