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Employability and skills

  • Skills to support the programme of investment

    We need strong, complementary employability and skills support to make sure the right skills are available in the region for the economic growth created by the capital programme of investment. The BRCD partners have agreed a Belfast Region Employability and Skills Proposition. The Employability and Skills Proposition sets out how the BRCD partners can work together to maximise the benefit of the £1bn capital investment.

    We will identify the jobs and skills needs and barriers to employment so that we can achieve greater inclusion.

    Employability and Skills Board

    The Employability and Skills Board will work with government partners to inform and influence their work programmes, championing the Belfast Region City Deal employability and skills interests and developing and delivering solutions to help us prepare the pipeline of skills and talent.

    We will address both needs of people seeking to enter the workforce and people who want to upskill or reskill to benefit from employment opportunities.Our programme of activity draws primarily from the existing employability and skills resources realigned to BRCD needs, as well as identifying ambitions to deliver new interventions, subject to funding availability. 


    Our interventions are themed:

  • Skills for inclusion

    Skills for inclusion involves creating opportunities to address skills imbalances and creating access to employment opportunities across the region by developing socially inclusive progression pathways.

    Council partners will play a leading role in delivering interventions in their local areas, connecting residents to entry level employment opportunities and addressing barriers to employment.  Working with the Department for Communities and local Labour Market Partnerships, councils will help make sure that interventions meet local needs and BRCD priorities.

    We will:

    • create awareness and access to BRCD opportunities
    • focus on supporting unemployed people (including those furthest from the labour market) to move closer to and into employment
    • deliver employer-led approaches through employment academies and new programmes such as the Employment Pathways Fund
    • enable inclusive growth by stimulating employers to create new and innovative pathways into priority sectors
  • Skills for growth

    Skills for growth means working with employers and partners to align skills programmes and employment opportunities with the growth in sectors supported by City Deal and enabling the development of new apprenticeship pathways.

    We will:

    • inform the development of new skills pathways in priority sectors
    • support the future proofing of the apprenticeship system to support new employment, including public sector opportunities
    • support efforts to address skills imbalances specifically at mid-tier skills level
    • deliver targeted approaches aligned to BRCD ambitions in priority sectors and support inclusive growth through our partners
  • Skills for a digital future

    Skills for a digital future proposes building digital literacy from grassroots up and enhancing regional business digital transformation.

    We will:

    • inform and, through partners, deliver essential digital skills across the region
    • support the City Deal ambitions of delivering digitally driven innovation
    • support and advocate for a suite of provision to support essential digital skills and job specific digital skills
    • facilitate inclusive growth by supporting the creation of employment pathways into the digital sector or into digitally focused occupations
    • increase the pace and scale of digital transformation amongst the region’s small business community
  • Digital Futures

    The Digital Futures Programme was an early success of the BRCD Partnership. In early 2020, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic began, we established a Digital ‘Task and Finish’ group, recognising the need to consider how BRCD could support recovery in an inclusive, sustainable and resilient way. The impact of COVID-19 underlined digital technology is a critically important component for business and society.

    The Task and Finish group sought to fast track the region’s digital transformation with a joined-up approach to supporting digital inclusion by increasing digital skills and supporting pathways into employment,  focusing on current and future employer needs.

    We developed the Digital Futures Programme to enable graduates seeking careers in the IT industry or in digitally-focused roles to develop industry relevant digital skills.  Supported by the Department for the Economy and delivered by further education colleges, the programme offered training in Cloud Computing, Data Analytics or Cyber Security, followed by a 10-week internship with a local employer to gain practical experience.  There was no cost to employers and all Digital Futures participants received a training allowance. 

    As well as offering a rapid response to the increasing need for digital skills in the region, Digital Futures also offered graduates from non-technological disciplines an opportunity to reskill in an area with greater opportunities for employment.  It also demonstrated how, through collaboration, agility and an innovative approach, partners can develop solutions that respond to challenges as they emerge.

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