02 Aug '16

Carrickfergus Enterprise has helped two local college students to secure employment after they successfully completed a digital tourism project, and has called for more businesses to offer work placements to talented young people.

The enterprise agency, working in partnership with the local tourism industry and Northern Regional College, has produced an interactive digital tourism map of the newly established East Antrim Coastal Way.

NRC Interactive Media students Dylan Rafferty and Phil Smallwood developed the map, which was launched this week at www.eastantrimcoastalway.com, during a work placement with Carrickfergus-based web hosting and development business Big Wet Fish.

Kelli Bagchus, manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise said: “Throughout the development of the East Antrim Coastal Way we involved as many local people as possible to provide opportunities for the whole community to benefit. Work placements were an ideal way to do this.

“The placement with Big Wet Fish gave these students a platform upon which to build their skills and get on-the-job experience. As a direct result, Dylan and Phil have secured ongoing employment with Big Wet Fish as they prepare to graduate from their course.”

Northern Regional College student Dylan Rafferty added: “The biggest challenge we face as young graduates is building the experience necessary to enhance our career prospects. Spending XX weeks with Big Wet Fish, developing the East Antrim Coastal Way website and interactive map really opened my eyes to the commercial side of the industry.

“As we approach our graduation, we’re now set to leave college with not only some real world experience, but an opportunity to continue to work with Big Wet Fish and further develop its web design business.”

Stephen Kincaid, owner of Big Wet Fish commented: “Working with Dylan and Phil has allowed us to expand our local web development offering. The Interactive Media course provided them with many of the skills they needed not only to do the job, but also to thrive in a growing business. The East Antrim Coastal Way project gave us a clear understanding of their skills and the reassurance we needed to offer them longer term roles in the business.”

The Coastal Communities Fund, which supported the East Antrim Coastal Way initiative, is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estate’s marine assets. It is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.