A Carrickfergus participant on a new apprenticeship programme is helping to create her own little piece of aviation history.
Rachael Garret has started training at Belfast International Airport on an Aviation Operations Apprenticeship.
A total of eight people, including Adam Moore, also from Carrick, will spend the next two years qualifying in dual roles within Airport Operations and the Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (RFFS).
Rachael and fellow female trainee Joanne O’Lynn are both delighted to be taking part and carving out a ‘first’.
Rachael said: “The great thing about this training is that each one of us gets to understand all aspects of operations here, and that makes it all the more valuable.
“Joanne and I also recognise that we’ll be making a little bit of history by becoming the first female firefighters at the airport.”
When they complete their training, the apprentices will receive their BTEC Certificate level 2 Diploma in Aviation on the Ground; Aviation Fire Fighter Initial Certificate; LGV Licence and First Aid Certificate.
Jaclyn Coulter, Airport Human Resources manager, said: “We had a lot of interest in these positions which offer a clear career path and a very competitive starting salary. This in-take will become proficient in all aspects of airport operations and rescue and fire services, and with impressive qualifications at the end, the sky is the limit for them.”
The programme aims to develop skills and knowledge required to successfully integrate the apprentices into the company.
Mark Bothwell, Chief Fire officer, commented: ”This programme isn’t costing the taxpayer a penny. It’s being funded entirely by the airport. It is unique to us and already word is spreading to other airports keen to copy what we’ve rolled out.
“It’s great to see the enthusiasm and eagerness of the apprentices and a can-do mentality which is what we are all about here.”
Graham Keddie, Airport managing director, welcomed the apprentices and told them they would receive top class, hands-on practical training at the busy facility.
Mr Keddie added: ”When these new recruits complete their training, they will become valuable members of the team that works round-the-clock to keep us open for business.
“The positions are demanding but the job satisfaction they will derive from a job well done will be immense. I’ve spoken to each of them and they’re all keen to get up and running.”