Image: Pauline Wylie, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and Nexus NI Boardroom Apprentice, left, with Michelle McCaughley, Belfast Met and NIFRS Boardroom Apprentice; Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Michael Graham; Ryan Hyland, Energia and NIFRS Boardroom Apprentice and Carmel McKinney, NIFRS chair
By Una Murphy
The “absolute heroes” working for Northern Ireland’s Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) have had Boardroom Apprentices flocking to sign up to work with the organisation.
NIFRS chair Carmel McKinney, a former school principal, told the launch of the Boardroom Apprentice scheme at Stormont recently that everyone had seen the bravery of firefighters over the past few days at Grenfell Tower in London.
The Boardroom Apprentices who will work with her organisation needed “understanding and passion”, Ms McKinney said.
“What’s in it for us is the joy of seeing apprentices develop and to give them new skills”.
She added that as well as taking on two apprentices to the NIFRS board – Michelle McCaughley who works for Belfast Met and Ryan Hyland who works for Energia – NIFRS staff member Pauline Wylie is becoming a Boardroom Apprentice at Nexus NI, which offers counselling and support to survivors of sexual abuse and victims of sexual violence.
Ms Ms Kinney said: “The NIFRS wants to help people on their journey and give something back to their organisations.”
Sara McCracken and Jonathan McAdams are among the other 29 Boardroom Apprentices who will work with host boards.
Sara, who works for the Controlled Schools Support Council, said she was excited at becoming a Boardroom Apprentice at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust as she was interested in strategic decision making within the Health Service.
Jonathan, a civil servant, said he had ruled himself out from applying to be a board member in the past because he thought you had to be “male, pale and stale” and he did not fit the bill. He added that he hoped that by joining the board of New Life Counselling as a Boardroom Apprentice it would help to encourage “open conversations about mental health and mental well-being”.
The Boardroom Apprentice is a pilot project developed by Eileen Mullan, founder of Strictly Boardroom (https://strictlyboardroom.com), an online site where people interested on being on a Third Sector or Public Sector Board can sign up for free. She is also chair of Age NI.
Eileen praised the host boards in the Boardroom Apprentice pilot programme who had “taken the risk to do something different”. Eileen advised the apprentices to “grab this opportunity with both hands”.
“The Boardroom Apprentice is built upon three central pillars providing training, experience and support that will better equip aspiring board members to go forward for board positions in the future”, she said.