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NWRC and Braidwater BW Homes Construction Building the Careers of Derry Girls

04 May 2018
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North West Regional College (NWRC) and Braidwater/BW Homes and Construction have joined forces in a unique new partnership designed to successfully progress the careers of the region’s construction students.

Three students from NWRC who were given work placements by Braidwater and BW Homes & Construction as Trainee Site Managers at some of the company’s most progressive housing projects, have impressed their new employers so much, they’ve been kept on as paid employees.

The three ladies, who are in the final year of a Foundation Degree in Construction Engineering with Surveying at NWRC, are working at the Braidwater Birch Hill site on the Belt Road, Derry~Londonderry and the BW Homes & Construction sites at Skeoge and Coleraine.

According to site manager at Birch Hill, Brian O’Kane, all three Trainee Site Managers were of a high calibre and able to diversify and adapt efficiently to each project.

He said: “The three trainee managers did a top class job and gelled so well within each team that we decided to keep them on.

“All three housing sites are very busy and each of them have proven to be critical to their own team.

“The Braidwater/BW Homes & Construction partnership with NWRC has proven to be a huge success and we are delighted to see more women embarking on a career in construction.”

Ciara McFeely, Trainee Site Manager at Birch Hill, Belt Road said she was inspired to go into construction by her father, who works as a contractor.

She said: “The combination of studying while also working on site, has been invaluable. Working at Birch Hill has allowed me to experience all aspects of site management, including project management, programming, scheduling and all the day to day running tasks of a live building project. It’s a busy place to be but I’m learning a lot and there’s a great team at the site.”

NWRC student Jennie McAllister, who is working in Coleraine with BW, revealed that she switched from a career in social work to life on the building site.

She said: “My grandad worked in construction and I always wanted to be outdoors. When I started the course I just loved it, then we got to go on placement. At first I shadowed the site foreman, and then took over the day to day essential tasks.

“My placement was supposed to end in January but I’ve been kept on.

“I’d really recommend this as a career. I never thought I’d be working as a site manager on a housing project but I wouldn’t change it.”

Ashlene McMonagle decided to embark on the course at NWRC after working in Australia for four years.

She said: “Ciara, Jennie and I are the only ladies on each of our sites, but that doesn’t bother us.

“I look after the site programme and deal with all the subcontractors. The placement has given us an understanding of what happens onsite through practical experience.”

Darren Farnan, marketing manager, Braidwater / BW Homes and Construction commented on the success of the partnership: ‘’This is a fantastic example of how students can successfully be placed with local businesses and gain invaluable practical experience. Combined with their study, Ashlene, Ciara and Jennie all have the know-how to progress their careers to the next level and we congratulate them on their efforts on each of the sites. This partnership has been so successful we are seeking to find the next batch of future site foremen and women.’’

John Logue, Curriculum Manager Built Environment, NWRC, congratulated the three ladies on the major success story of their immediate progression from their Foundation Degree course placement to employment.

He said: “On behalf of North West Regional College, I would like to thank Braidwater/BW Homes & Construction for the support and encouragement to the students, as well as the excellent practical learning experiences provided. NWRC are delighted to work with Braidwater, one of Northern Ireland’s major home and property developers, who are leading the way in innovative construction projects and paving the way for all aspiring young professionals. Their commitment to the youth of the region is admirable. We look forward to similar successful placements for the range of Foundation Degree and HNC courses offered at NWRC in the coming years".

North West Regional College offers a range of Further and Higher Education courses in Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering with Surveying, plus Architectural Technology, on a full time basis with direct work based placement. Applications are now open for these courses which begin again in September 2018 at

Braidwater is one of Northern Ireland’s leading home builders with a history of over 40 successful years in in the property industry. With sites throughout Northern Ireland, Braidwater has been recognised in recent years as one of Ireland’s Best Managed Companies, for quality building by industry watchdog NHBC and shortlisted as the UK’s small developers of the year for 2018 by the RESI Awards.

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