The knowledge connection for business

Client: SERC A Top UK College with World-Class Aspirations
Knowledge Provider: South Eastern Regional College
Sector: Food and Drink / Agri Food

SERC A Top UK College with World-Class Aspirations

As a top 30 UK College, South East Regional College (SERC) has built its reputation as a trusted and respected part of the local community by delivering an industry focused curriculum. As well as providing training courses, the college has become renowned as an innovative partner for companies seeking to improve productivity and develop new markets or products.

Operating across its four campuses in Bangor, Lisburn, Downpatrick and Newtownards (plus smaller campuses in Holywood, Newcastle and Ballynahinch), SERC offers a broad range of accredited and non-accredited programmes, covering 30+ curriculum areas, to over 32,000 students through its 925 staff.

 Business Services Unit Engaging with business The Business Services Unit within SERC operates across all campuses and provides support to local businesses. Janice Cooke, Head of Business Services at SERC explains how businesses can begin to engage with SERC.

“The Business Services Unit draws on a number of different approaches in order to open dialogue and engage with its business audiences. These include: direct promotion and targeting of business to inform them of SERC’s products and services; breakfast briefings/seminars on key topics; direct referrals via word-of-mouth recommendations; cold calling with businesses and, through web and business e-zine newsletters.”

Best-fit solutions

Janice further explains “The purpose of SERC engaging with industry is to identify and promote the best solution for the client at that time. This means signposting them to funding that SERC can access through DfE, for example, Invest NI’s Innovation Vouchers, KTP Programme or creating a bespoke solution at full cost recovery. In short, the priority is always to find the best-fit solution for the employer”.

 Hi-spec facilities

“Training can be delivered at the employer’s premises, in the College or off site, depending on what is required. It is important to note that all of the College’s facilities are very new, boasting high-end resources such as the new £13 million Space Centre in Bangor which opened in 2016, with a focus on computing, engineering and the creative industries.

 Local case study: Glanbia PLC and Huhtamaki (Lurgan) Ltd

Recently, Magheralin-based Glanbia Cheese, a division of Glanbia PLC, the international food group, expressed a need for specialised staff training in the areas of electrical and mechanical fault finding and repair. SERC met with the company and suggested that a ‘Mechalec’ course might best meet the needs identified. In order to make the training as cost effective as possible, SERC also approached packaging specialists Huhtamaki (Lurgan) Ltd. in Dollingstown, as it was believed that a similar skills requirement might exist. This proved to be the case.

 Practical outputs

This collaborative approach resulted in the creation of a specialist training partnership designed to boost operational efficiency, with training tailored to the specific needs of each companies.  SERC’s Lisburn campus is equipped with state-of-the-art mechatronics technology, which meant that participants from Glanbia and Huhtamaki received enhanced skills across key areas of cost reduction, waste minimisation and improved productivity. 

What the clients say…

As a result of multi-skilling their respective teams, both companies have experienced immediate and sustained benefits through reduced downtime and cost savings.


Jim Burnside Maintenance Manager at Glanbia PLC explains: 

"We are committed to continual investment in our workforce and we were thrilled to avail of the bespoke training offered by SERC.   The course has developed our engineers' technical capabilities - key to ensuring continual innovation. We are confident that the training will continue to have a direct impact on the productivity and competitiveness of the company in the global marketplace." 

Stephen Herron Training & Development Officer at Huhtamaki said:

"This specialist training was designed to advance the knowledge and capabilities of our team and was tailored to suit our needs. I would encourage other companies considering up-skilling their staff to contact the College."