Labour Market Partnership Launches with HGV Training and Employment Academy

Wednesday 3rd August 2022

The newly formed Ards and North Down Borough Council Labour Market Partnership (ANDLMP) was formally launched by showcasing the Ards and North Down HGV Training and Employment Academy.

A group of people stand in front of an HGV truck

The AND HGV Training and Employment Academy will fully fund 30 eligible individuals to gain an HGV licence (Class 1 or Class 2) and a guaranteed interview, on successful HGV licensing. The programme has been designed to respond to specific local needs by closing the gap between local employers’ needs and the skilled labour shortage in the HGV sector.

The Ards and North Down Labour Market Partnership, which is funded by the Department for Communities (DfC) and has also received a contribution from the Department for the Economy, was established in August 2021 and includes representatives from multiple statutory, community and voluntary bodies as well as local schools and colleges, Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.

Having undertaken a Strategic Assessment of the local labour market conditions, including the impact of Covid-19, and a consultation process with stakeholders, the ANDLMP developed a local Action Plan for 2021-2023 which includes the development of projects and interventions to help address local issues, whilst meeting core DfC objectives addressing: 

  • Economic inactivity rates excluding students
  • Employment rate of 16-64 year olds by deprivation quintile 
  • Percentage of people working part time who would like to work more hours 
  • Percentage of population living in absolute and relative poverty 

Funding of over £400,000 has been allocated by the Department for Communities to deliver on the Plan, with identified targets and performance measures having been developed.  The three main themes are: 

  • Theme 1: Supporting People into Employment and Employment Enhancement 
  • Theme 2: Young People with Employability Challenges 
  • Theme 3: Covid-19 Related Labour Market Disruption 

Announcing support for the work of the Labour Market Partnership, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said:

“I am delighted to welcome the formal launch of the Ards and North Down Labour Market Partnership. This is a very exciting initiative and will play an important role in my Department’s employability offer in the coming years. 

“The Labour Market Partnership approach offers significant potential to deliver on key Departmental commitments to support employability provision tailored to local needs as well as contribute to an inclusive economy and community wealth building.”

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas, said:

"The Ards and North Down Labour Market Partnership is an exciting new initiative that will help to address issues with jobs and training at a local level. I am delighted that this new approach of combining resources and sharing knowledge from a wide range of public, community, voluntary and private stakeholders is being rolled out across Northern Ireland for the first time.

"Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Labour Market Partnership will specifically help to open up new opportunities for the people of our Borough. The HGV Training and Employment Academy is the first of our locally focussed programmes. It offers the opportunity to retrain and upskill individuals with a guaranteed job interview on successful completion, providing excellent opportunities for jobseekers as well as employers."

Frank Shivers, Chair of the Labour Market Partnership, said: 

“It is terrific to see the plan start to take shape and make a tangible difference. This type of direct training really opens opportunities and life chances. It directly provides a chance to earn higher salaries and makes a substantial financial impact in our local community and beyond. The HGV Academy is just one of the projects delivered by the LMP initiative. It will have a positive outcome throughout the Ards and North Down area and please look out for other job training and upskilling opportunities coming soon.”

Ards and North Down Labour Market Partnership will be delivering projects included in their 2021-23 Action Plan aimed to address issues with jobs and training through combining resources and delivering a collaborative and flexible approach to employability support. 

For more information about Ards and North Down Labour Market Partnership, email

Photo caption (L-R): Michael Carson (Mentor, People 1st); Sioban Brennan (Employability NI, Department for Communities); Frank Shivers (Labour Market Partnership Chair); Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas; Chris Smart (Assistant Director Employability Programmes, Department for Communities); Sharyn McMaster (Labour Market Partnership Manager); Garry Cairns (Driver and Truck Operational Manager, Henderson’s); Matthew McBride (Employability NI, Department for Communities). (Image: Ian Pedlow)