Employment Minister Dr Stephen Farry has visited Larne’s Caterpillar factory to see the new training being provided at the facility.
The company’s material handling project is supported by £220,000 of funding from the Department for Employment and Learning’s (DEL) Assured Skills Programme.
This will focus on the skills development of more than 100 high quality manufacturing positions required to run the manufacturing and assembly of the material handling machines.
Visiting the Larne site on Tuesday, October 14, Mr Farry said: “The Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sector is critical to the growth of the Northern Ireland economy and improving the match between the skills of the workforce and the needs of the employer is central to this aim.
“A better skills base is fundamental to ensuring the sector remains competitive and a collaborative approach is essential to ensuring industry has a skilled workforce that meet its requirements.
“As Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Services Working Group, I am delighted to support Caterpillar in its Northern Ireland operations, particularly with skills development programmes.
“This project offers the local workforce the opportunity to develop key transferable skills and is an excellent example of a successful collaboration between government, education and industry and demonstrates my Department’s ability to respond promptly to the needs of employers.”
The Minister was joined by members of the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Working Group.
Training at the Larne facility is delivered by Belfast Metropolitan College and by Northern Regional College at the Monkstown facility.
Robert Kennedy, Caterpillar Northern Ireland’s Operations Director said: “We are very pleased to welcome Minister Farry and the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Working Group to our Larne site.
“The material handling project is strategically important for us, diversifying our traditional product portfolio and developing new manufacturing skills and capabilities within our workforce.
“We are very grateful to DEL’s Assured Skills Programme for the support provided to help us continue to invest in the kind of key skills that are central to the future growth of Caterpillar NI and important for the wider industry.”
Caterpillar has four sites in NI - Larne, Monkstown, Springvale, and Belfast - employing around 2,100 people.
At the end of 2013, the company announced that it would invest £7 million to enable the production of Cat wheeled material handlers in Northern Ireland. In addition, it manufactures generator sets, assembles axles for articulated trucks, and has a shared services centre here, providing a range of services, such as accounting and marketing, to the other parts of Caterpillar worldwide.