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HBO Screen Production Boosts Apprenticeships

The first trade apprentices to work on the USA-owned Game of Thrones TV set in the east Belfast Painthall Film studios in the Titanic Quarter have been praised.
The Stormont Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, and the Belfast Mayor, Niall O'Donnghaile, also congratulated the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and Belfast City Council (BCC) who have been working in partnership to enhance employment, training and skills opportunities through its Titanic Quarter Work Group.
Welcoming this partnership approach Minister Farry said: "I welcome the opportunity these apprentices have been given through this joint initiative which is clearly benefiting both Titanic Quarter employers and local communities.
"These apprentices are being given a valuable employment opportunity that will assist them to complete their qualifications and become time-served tradesmen and I would like to also thank Acapple Construction for making this possible," he said.
"As the regeneration of the Titanic Quarter gathers pace, so shall the demand for a skilled workforce.
"My Department will continue to provide access to the skills and training aimed at meeting the needs of employers and playing a key role in the economic and social regeneration of both the Titanic Quarter and the greater Belfast area."
The work the apprentices will be involved in is assisting to build the new film sets for the second series of HBO's Game of Thrones. Apprentices will not only gain practical plastering skills but will also be taught how to carry out specialist work around moulding and fiberous plastering.
As one of the key priorities, the Titanic Quarter Work Group Action Plan - launched in April - has committed to assisting apprentices into employment.
These opportunities were created to assist apprentices who have lost their employment opportunities during the downturn to finish their apprenticeships and become time served in their own right.
The appointment of apprentices by Acapple Construction Ltd was made possible due to the recent announcement that the second series of Game of Thrones would commence later in the year. This has been funded by Northern Ireland Screen, supported by Invest NI and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Speaking at the Paint Hall Studios Belfast Mayor, Niall O’Donnghaile, said: "This is an excellent example of co-operation between Belfast City Council and the Department for Employment and Learning.
"This approach ensures employment opportunities for local communities and I am looking forward to hearing about more opportunities as they arise. I would like to congratulate all involved and wish the apprentices well in their new jobs.
"Belfast City Council is committed to creating and maintaining jobs in the city, particularly during these difficult economic times. This initiative, involving providing employment opportunities and training, is in keeping with my main priorities as Lord Mayor.
"These include supporting tourism and major investments in the city and working in partnership with the public and private bodies to create jobs and revitalise Belfast," he said.
Chaired by a DEL representative seconded out to BCC, the Titanic Quarter Work Group, set up under the Memorandum of Understanding, is the only forum of its kind in Northern Ireland.
The TQ Work Group coordinates recruitment, training, skills and employment programmes focussing on bespoke employment approaches and initiatives to meet the needs of target groups including the long term unemployed, apprentices, graduates and undergraduates.
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