From education to employment

Health and Social Care lecturer nominated for prestigious national award

A Health and Social Care lecturer from Northern Regional College has been nominated for a prestigious national education award.

Jacqui McAllister, based at the College’s Newtownabbey campus, has been shortlisted for Further Education (FE) Leader of the Year at the Tes FE Awards in London next month.

The Tes FE Awards are open to all FE providers including colleges, work-based learning providers and adult and community learning providers across the UK. They celebrate and reward the dedication and expertise of people and teams who make a significant contribution to improving the skill levels of young people and adult learners.

As Course Director of Health and Social Care at the College’s Newtownabbey campus, Jacqui identified the growing demand for suitably qualified healthcare workers in the industry. To meet this demand, she sourced new courses which would improve the promotion and employability prospects of people currently working in a caring role.

By spearheading the further expansion of Health and Social Care courses available at the College, Jacqui’s efforts have resulted in a steady increase in student numbers over recent years culminating in over 220 students being recruited for the current academic year.

Commenting on the increase in the College’s course offering, Jacqui said:

“There are significant challenges within the Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland. Healthcare staff are at the frontline, providing care and support to people with a range of needs arising out of disabilities, illness or old age. By equipping staff with the necessary skills to provide the best possible care, they can transform lives.”

The healthcare sector makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, currently contributing an estimated £800million in Northern Ireland alone. With an aging population and a reduction in public resources, the sector faces growing problems with increasing demand for home care packages.

Jacqui explained that this demand is only likely to grow therefore creating more opportunities for those interesting in pursuing a caring role:

“The Health and Social Care courses offered by the College can provide a pathway to success. We have had students progress from Level 2 all the way up to Level 5 and they know from their own personal experience how having accredited qualifications can improve their employability and career prospects.”

Jacqui added that whilst she was “humbled and delighted” to be nominated for the FE Leader of the Year award, she stresses that she could not have achieved everything she has within the College without the help of her fantastic Health and Social Care department.

“Ian Jinks, my Assistant Head of Department had a fantastic vision of what was required within the industry and was very supporting in getting all of these new courses over the line,” she said.

Last September, in addition to the existing Health and Social Care courses at the College, a one-year Level 4 Diploma in Adult Care and two-year Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management were introduced. Both courses, which are approved by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, attracted their full quota of students.

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