The Skills System in Northern Ireland

This research sets out the context in which the skills system in Northern Ireland operates, and attempts to outline the challenges this system faces.

It sets out the economic factors which determine the context for the skills system, looking at issues like economic performance, labour market trends and the skills in the workforce. It looks at the policy context that has shaped the skills system in Northern Ireland, turning to cross-cutting, government-wide policies and those particular to the skills system. It also examines the structure of the skills system, and how learning is organised and institutionalised in Northern Ireland.

The report identifies the challenges facing the skills system, and indeed Northern Ireland more generally, including automation, the changing nature of globalisation, demographic change across the UK and Brexit. Finally, it offers 15 insights that outline the emerging findings and conclusions. These insights speak to the issues that the skills system exists to address, and those that define its capacity to do so, and are outlined not as recommendations or firm conclusions, but to capture the view of the opportunities and challenges facing the skills system.

How Northern Ireland’s policymakers, the skills system, and wider stakeholders grasp and respond to these issues will be critical in defining the future success of the skills system in the future, and the economy which depends upon it.