OPEN COLLEGE NETWORK NI (OCN NI) has announced a 26% increase in the number of vocational awards it has issued in 2020.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, more people than ever are interested and engaged in vocational learning, leading to a marked increase at OCN NI in the number of qualification certificates they have issued compared to last academic year.

Now officially the second largest vocational awarding body in Northern Ireland, OCN NI has developed an additional 39 new qualifications this year which are specially designed for training providers and learners in NI.

The courses cover a wide spectrum of subjects such as the OCN NI Level 2 Award in Cyber Security , OCN NI Level 2 Certificate in Digital Construction Skills, OCN NI Level 2 Award in Awareness of Mental Health and Well-being and the OCN NI Level 4 Award in Social Media and Digital Marketing.

OCN qualifications are delivered throughout NI’s six Further Education Colleges, schools, community/voluntary and employment and training organisations.

Martin Flynn, CEO of Open College Network NI (OCN NI) said:

“We are delighted that despite the impact which Covid-19 has had across all aspects of life this year, we have seen an increase in the number of vocational certificates we have issued. Many young people choose vocational education, and we feel it is important to acknowledge the huge number of people around NI who achieve great things through this career path.

“We’ve noticed a general rise in interest in vocational courses, demonstrating that the traditional route of A-Levels and University isn’t necessarily right for everyone and also that even during a pandemic, people’s general appetite for learning and success has not declined.

“In fact, maybe it has made some people stop and take stock of their current situation and decide that there’s never been a better time to learn a new skill or earn a new qualification, which could enhance their employment prospects.

“Research shows that young people leaving full time education today are likely to have 50 year careers, increasing the need to retrain and unlike previous generations they are less likely to have a ‘job for life’ so may change career paths multiple times.  OCN NI has recently commissioned a major research project to look into this area and we should be in a position to publish the results of our findings in January 2021.

“We look forward to working with and supporting our education and training providers and learners, in 2021,” added Martin.

For more information on OCN NI go to https://www.ocnni.org.uk/

For further information please contact Lawrence Duffy or Bronagh Cobain of Duffy Rafferty Communications on 07515 338936.


About Open College Network (NI)

The Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) is a leading Awarding Body, working with Further Education Colleges, Schools, Training Organisations, Third Sector Organisations, Health Trusts, Prisons and other education and training organisations. Our offices are based in Belfast and we are regulated by statutory bodies to develop professional and technical (vocational) qualifications from Entry Level up to and including Level 5 across all subject areas. Our mission is to ‘develop and award qualifications which engage, enrich and equip learners for life.’

We are an independent, self-financing charitable organisation that has a proven track record of delivering and contributing to the NI skills agenda. As an indigenous Awarding Body based in Belfast, our priority is to develop and maintain qualifications tailored to the needs of people living and working in NI. Our flexibility and responsiveness to economic need ensures our qualifications are tailored to the needs of education and training providers, employers, learners and align to the outcomes of the NI Programme for Government.

Through working in partnership with our recognised education and training providers, we are able to develop and award qualifications which help tackle educational underachievement and remove barriers to learning. To date the educational charity has registered over 500,000 learners and has worked with over 400 organisations in the public, private and not for profit sectors.