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Belfast City Council and NICVA partner to explore inclusive employment

Date: 22 Jan 2024

Category: Jobs and skills

Keynote speaker Andy Haldane, Chief Executive, Royal Society of Arts, Celine McStravick, Chief Executive, NICVA and Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy open BCC & NICVA employability conference

Over 200 delegates gathered at Ulster University’s Belfast campus this morning to explore how Belfast can address economic inactivity and achieve a truly inclusive labour market.

Delivered by partners Belfast City Council, NICVA and the Belfast Labour Market Partnership, with funding from the Department for Communities, the event explored the causes of economic inactivity, what needs to change in employment support to meet current and future challenges, how health and employment services might work better together; and how skills and employment services can be more aligned.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “This stunning Ulster University campus represents the level of ambition we all have for Belfast. And through The Belfast Agenda, we’ve committed to growing the economy in a way that’s truly inclusive, making sure that people can reach their full potential.

“Addressing economic inactivity is undoubtedly a complex, multi-layered challenge and there won’t be a quick fix, but we know that a collaborative approach will deliver a shared solution - and therefore a better outcome. The crux of inclusive employment is helping people find jobs and helping businesses and organisations find people. Today is an important first step towards doing that more effectively.”

Andy Haldane, Chief Executive, Royal Society of Arts delivered the keynote presentation: “People Make Places: inclusive labour markets at the heart of successful towns and cities.” Marguerite Shannon, Senior Economist, UUEPC, and Tony Wilson, Director, Institute for Employment Studies also presented recent findings and there was panel discussion with Celine McStravick (NICVA), Paddy Rooney (Department for Communities), Moira Doherty (Department for Economy) and Suzanne Wylie (NI Chamber).

There were also breakout sessions on health, welfare reform, skills, and resourcing, with feedback provided by session chairs Dr John Kelly, Ursula O’Hare, Richard Kirk, and Kristel Miller.

Delegates discussed how our health and employment services might work together better, lessons learned about delivering effective personal support, upskilling, local-level interventions that could be scaled up, and what new support programmes might look like.

For more information on Belfast City Council’s employability and skills support, including Employment Academies and the Gateway To Choices (G2C) service, visit

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