Martin O’Brien, chief executive, Sadie Ward McDermott, director of further education and Fiona Kindlon, director of schools for Louth Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) delivered a presentation of its Cross-Border Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Schools Project to Joe Kennedy, United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. The presentation was made during his recent visit to the Portview Trade Centre in Belfast which was hosted by the International Fund for Ireland.

The LMETB and the Portview Centre in Belfast are collaborating partners in the development of cross-border educational and training alliances.  The presentation celebrated the achievements of students from four LMETB schools and students from four schools in Belfast participating in a cross-border schools pathways programme. It was an opportunity to demonstrate how the project has been facilitating the promotion of cross community and cross-border peace building.  The presenters were Paddy Harte, chair of the International Fund for Ireland, Aisling Cartmill, training and development offers with the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre, Brendan Mackin, chair of  Portview and students from Dundonald High School and Mercy College.

Martin O’Brien, chief executive of LMETB, said  “We were delighted to meet Special Envoy Joe Kennedy and to be given this fantastic opportunity to showcase how collaboration between schools on the Island of Ireland fosters a sense of unity and co-operation among students from all  backgrounds. Through joint projects, workshops, and cultural exchanges, opportunities are created for students to learn about each other’s traditions, values, and perspectives. The aims of the cross-border schools project include supporting young people to see new and exciting personal and career opportunities into the future , which ultimately will support the development of necessary skills and talent pipelines to support social and economic prosperity and growth .”

 Mr Kennedy heard directly from students and teachers about their experiences, and the value such an opportunity affords in providing an awareness and knowledge for future learning and career choices . The Senator expressed his appreciation to the International Fund for Ireland for providing this wonderful opportunity which combines advanced manufacturing, technologies with this innovative and transformative educational and peace building experience.

In 2022, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Louth Meath Education & Training Board, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, Catalyst Connection and the Portview Trade Centre in Belfast. The cross border, cross continent MOU represented a significant step in the foundation of crucial strategic educational and training alliances between the island of Ireland and the United States of America, promoting the exchange of knowledge, information, training opportunities, and the effective translation of integrated advanced manufacturing skills across both Ireland and the US.

Sadie Ward McDermott, director of FET at LMETB said “We are extremely proud to be involved in this innovative project with such inspiring partners. The Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Schools Project is an exciting undertaking that works to empower students with the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. Students have access to world class facilities and equipment at the LMETB’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre of Excellence in Dundalk and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Queens University in Belfast.”