NI future is bright – IF we work collaboratively:
As part of #DANIAwards18, we have teamed up with our sponsors at Diamond Recruitment and their sister company PeoplePlus NI, which is empowering and nurturing amazing talent that exists here in Northern Ireland.
Ms Celia O’Hagan, Director of Teaching and Learning for the newly established Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Institute within PeoplePlus NI, discusses the vast needs within society and employment for young learners and early career workers central to the development of our ecomonic growth and skills economy.
A National Target for Learning in the Workplace:
The national agenda for skills is often discussed across departments, government and employer circles. Our researchers in Northern Ireland tell us there are skills-gaps, vast and growing within the various priority sectors. Areas such as manufacturing, retail, hospitality, technology, engineering, financial services, education and social and health care are all experiencing shortages and low, or poor, levels of talent entering the workforce.
We know the Brexit threat due to a progressive reliance on foreign national workers. We are very aware of the education view that economic inactivity will worsen without funding for the lower or poor achievers exiting our schools. We are even more concerned by the new budgetary plans, notwithstanding the enormous delays, which threaten the progressive needs associated with a Vocational Education and Training sector trying to address the imbalances in society amidst conditions of unrest in our political environment. With these environmental challenges, it is now time for us to work collectively and progressively to ensure the market needs are met.
No one part of society can achieve the end goal for regional development single handed. Partnerships in education and training for employment are the future for us; they are our only hope. Matching our societal needs at Stormont and listening to those who understand the unrest will help us progress. It is something that can be achieved if supported.
Apprenticeships and Youth Training are the Future for Skills:
Apprenticeships and the new youth training goals are upon us, they have been for some time. They are here to stay and should be positioned centre stage in any employer-education- vocational partnership. This calls for a root and branch approach to progressive workforce development in Northern Ireland.
Employer engagement must now combine with advanced technology, industrial experienced educators/trainers and grow through the establishment of communities of practices. Such collaborative ventures offer a willingness to work in partnership to support skills through a reengineer of career pathways in NI.
A Shared Future for Skills:
Learning Academies promote career pathway by offering opportunities for such a shared vision, where vocational and academic learning is made available to all learners. This will support those of us dealing directly with employers and societies who are economically inactive, particularly in our youth sectors. The overall aim is to enhance career ready/work ready outcomes for all communities.
The curriculum feeders (schools, Colleges, training organisations) must all work together to ensure a robust work-based learning platform for younger learners and existing employees who require upskilling. Creativity, accessibility, flexibility and innovation are central to the achievement of such goals. At the core, however, is values. Values for lifelong learning, readdressing marginalisation in society, meeting employer needs through ‘Vocationalised-Apprenticeships’ and, most importantly, a willingness to work collaboratively for our shared skills in our economy.
This increased flexibility and accessibility requirement in education and vocational training is essential to Northern Ireland’s economic prosperity. Learning in the workplace will heighten contextualisation and drive the skills economy. Our future is very bright in Northern Ireland if we work collectively to achieve skills.