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Open College Network NI Partners with Learning & Work Institute


Open College Network NI Partners with Learning & Work Institute

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.  

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.”

Stephen Evans added: “By working together based on our shared values, we are confident that we can collectively identify and deliver a range of insightful and innovative research papers on a number of key issues linked to the enhancement of Northern Ireland’s economy and society.”


NOTE TO EDITOR: For further information please contact: 

Michael McCrory: 

About OCN NI

OCN NI is a leading Awarding Organisation, 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 qualifications from Entry Level up to and including Level 5 across all subject areas.

It is 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 Organisation based in Belfast, its priority is to develop and maintain qualifications tailored to the needs of people living and working in NI. Its flexibility and responsiveness to economic need ensure its qualifications are tailored to the needs of education and training providers, employers, learners and align to the outcomes of the NI Programme for Government.

Its mission is to ‘develop and award qualifications which engage, enrich and equip learners for life.’ 

About Learning and Work Institute

Learning and Work Institute is an independent policy, research and development organisation dedicated to lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion. We research what works, influence policy, develop new ways of thinking and help implement innovative approaches.

Advanced Education • Awarding Qualifications

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