Students go global

ON DECEMBER 14th representatives from a number of local organisations attended a ‘Globalisation Day’ held in Dungannon’s South West College, which was aimed at giving students a unique insight into the experiences of migrant workers in the local area.

This event, which is intended to support the ‘Learning for Life and Work’ programme, was attended by Year 9 students from Cookstown High School, Drumglass High School, St. Patrick’s Academy and St Patrick’s College.

It was organised by Dungannon and Cookstown Business Education Partnership (BEP) to develop pupils’ knowledge about job roles and careers on a local level as well as furthering their understanding of the value added by migrant workers to Northern Ireland’s economy.

Those attending heard a range of perspectives from a number of speakers. Edel Fox from the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme gave the initial overview on ‘Globalisation’ and its impact locally and also outlined the migrant workers’ support programme delivered by STEP.

Ola Sobieraj from Cookstown and Western Shores Area Network gave an overview of CWSAN and the ethnic minority support project, based in Cookstown.

Students were also given an insight into the migrant workers’ home countries, their economies, and the practicalities of everyday life such as examples of the average working week, the average wage and standard of living and how these compared with life and work in NI.

Migrant workers from a number of countries who are currently working in the local community in a variety of jobs gave personal accounts of their experiences of migrating to another country and finding work.

These included both the types of prejudices and stereotypical challenges faced by many, as well as their personal gains from the experience.

Speakers included Mrs Dominika McKillion, a teacher at Drumglass High School, who described her own personal experience of moving to Dungannon.

Giving a local employer perspective, David Kirkland from Greiner Packaging International outlined the impact of globalisation on the company and how it has evolved to embrace the opportunities presented by being part of a global market.

Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Council, Councillor Phelim Gildernew supporting the initiative stated: “The 2011 Census has revealed that the Borough has the highest proportion of people born in European Union accession countries thus it is essential that Year 9 pupils are having the opportunity of looking at the broader picture and gaining relevant and true insight into the working lifestyle of many of their migrant neighbours who have chosen Dungannon as home.”

Chairman of Cookstown District Council, Councillor Tony Quinn stated that: “Cookstown District Council is very pleased to co-fund such an innovative event which will provide our young people with a deeper insight into the experiences of migrant workers in the Mid-Ulster area and promote a greater understanding of the contribution they make, both economically and socially, to our Districts”.