Working Together-How learning and skills support can create an inclusive labour market in NI

Northern Ireland’s leading awarding body, Open College Network NI (OCN NI) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) arrangement with the Learning & Work Institute (L&WI). 

The organisations will collaborate on a number of research projects in the future which they hope will make a valuable contribution to NI policy makers, funders and learning networks for the benefit of the wider NI economy.

As a local charity and social enterprise organisation, OCN NI is keen to develop its ability to provide independent research reports which local government departments can use to positively influence public policy, so the L&W alliance is a natural progression of that vision.

The formal signing of the MoU follows a successful collaboration between both organisations in 2020 which delivered a piece of research entitled A Higher Skills Ambition for NI, which was well received by a number of stakeholders locally. The signing of the MoU coincides with the publication of a new collaborative piece of research - Working Together-How learning and skills support can create an inclusive labour market in NI - which explores and makes recommendations for appropriate policy responses for the Programme for Government and 10x Skills Strategy.  

One of the key findings from the report found that unemployment has risen less than it might have thanks to furlough. But there’s still a persistent rise in long-term unemployment in Northern Ireland, layered on top of higher economic inactivity than the UK.

Martin Flynn, OCN NI chief executive commented: “We are delighted to enter into this important collaboration with the highly respected Learning and Work Institute. As NI’s leading awarding organisation, our key mission is to ‘develop and award qualifications which engage, enrich and equip learners for life.’  I am confident the findings of the planned research projects we have identified will play an important part in this mission.”

“The primary purpose of this MoU is to confirm the commitment of the two organisations to work together, to positively influence policy makers, funders, and our learning networks on what `A Northern Ireland Learning & Skills Ecosystem` should look like, ultimately benefiting individuals, families, communities and the wider NI economy.”

Martin Flynn added: “Over the coming years, we will continue to support our local government, its departments and our education and training providers and play our part in helping to create a skilled workforce to meet the needs of the NI economy and beyond.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to extend our working relationship with OCN NI following a highly successful collaboration in 2020. Ensuring everyone has access to high quality learning and skills support is crucial for both prosperity and social justice.”

Advanced Education • Awarding Qualifications

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