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Teresa McDowell

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Be Inspired Series

Denise Clement

Operational Policy Team Manager
Department of Employment and Learning

What is your job?

I am the operational policy team manager for the Training for Success and the Apprenticeships NI training programmes administered by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL).

A major part of my work is the co-ordination of the advertising campaigns for both programmes, as well as the organisation and management of the Apprentice of the Year Awards.

How did you get to where you are now?

I began my working life in the civil service in 1982 and have been involved in a variety of job roles since then. Initially I worked in the Government training centres and then in jobcentres.
Following that I spent 14 years working in International Investment and International Marketing with the Industrial Development Board (IDB) and then a further four years with Invest Northern Ireland on Business Improvement.

Prior to commencing my current post in November 2007 I worked in business regulation for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. The opportunity to work in such varied areas is one of the best things about working for the civil service.

What skills do you need for your current job?

Good communications skills are essential as I am dealing with such a diverse range of people and organisations -- training suppliers, employers, apprentices of all ages, trainees and their families, event management companies, advertising agencies, as well as colleagues within DEL and other government departments. Attention to detail, good organisational skills and a creative ability are vital.

Do you have a typical working day?

No two days are ever the same. From working on The Apprentice of the Year Awards, co-ordinating the Training for Success and Apprenticeships NI marketing campaigns and messages, developing programme websites and promotional/information brochures, drafting answers to Assembly questions and writing speeches, to dealing with general inquiries on the day-to-day running of the programmes -- all this as well as managing my team makes for an extremely busy and varied day.

What's the best thing about your job?

I really do feel as if my work is making a difference. It is very evident that people are seeking, in greater numbers, to increase their skill levels.

It is an honour working with my team and being involved in the Apprentice of the Year Awards, showcasing the skills Northern Ireland has to offer.

And the worst?

The worst ... just trying to get everything done. My day goes in so quickly.

What are Training for Success and Apprenticeships NI?


These are the professional and technical training programmes which are funded by the Department for Employment and Learning.

Training for Success is designed for young people aged 16 to 18 years (up to 24 years for those requiring additional support) who are preparing for employment.

Apprenticeships NI is the department's flagship apprenticeship provision for all ages. Over 100 apprenticeship frameworks are funded over a wide range of occupational areas. Apprentices must be employed to be eligible.

What is the Apprentice of the Year Awards?

This showcase event offers the opportunity for our apprentices to be formally recognised and rewarded. This will be the ninth year of the awards and each year they've continued to grow in stature.

What are the benefits of winning the Award?

Winners take an enormous pride in receiving the title 'Apprentice of the Year' and it's not exaggerating when I describe the actual awards ceremony as glittering! The awards generate significant publicity, a major boost for any employer or training supplier. But it's really all about the apprentices themselves.

What piece of technology do you rely on most?


My diary and tasks list on Microsoft Outlook -- say no more.

How do you relax outside of work?


I live in Ballinderry with my husband and two kids, doing all the usual kids stuff including all those taxi runs, but when I have a little bit of spare time there is nothing like a good book, a cup of tea and sometimes a few too many chocolate biscuits.

If you could swap jobs with someone else for the day, who would it be and why?


The mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins. To stand in front of so many sharing such a talent is a fantastic gift.

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