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Annex A. Engagement

The OECD Skills Strategy project involved ongoing oversight and input from the National Project Team which was co-ordinated by, and composed of, experts from the Department for the Economy, as outlined in Table A A.1 below.

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Table A A.1. National Project Team

Project Team

Heather Cousins

Deputy Secretary Skills and Education Group, Department for the Economy

Graeme Wilkinson

Director of Skills, Department for the Economy

Michael Gould

Strategy Portfolio Management, Department for the Economy

Raymond Kelly

Skills Strategy Branch, Department for the Economy

Roger Arneill

Skills Strategy Branch, Department for the Economy

Renee O’Cleary

Skills Strategy Branch, Department for the Economy

Ruth Bennett

Skills Strategy Branch, Department for the Economy

Adrian McMullan

Skills Strategy Branch, Department for the Economy

Julianne Kieran

Analytical Services, Department for the Economy

Further strategic oversight and guidance was provided by the over-arching Skills Strategy Project Board which was comprised of experts from across the Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) public sector, as set out in Table A A.2 below.

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Table A A.2. Skills Strategy Project Board

Skills Strategy Project Board

James Boyle

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)

Emer Morelli

Director, Supply Division, Department of Finance

Caroline Gillan

PfG and NICS of the Future, The Executive Office

Faustina Graham

Director, Curriculum, Qualifications & Standards, Department of Education

Deirdre Ward

Director, Work & Wellbeing, Department for Communities

Jim Wilkinson

Director, Apprenticeships, Careers and Vocational Education, Department for the Economy

Nick Gibson

Higher Education Division, Department for the Economy

Chris Williamson

Workforce Policy Division, Department of Health

Deirdre Mackle

Director of Engineering, Department for Communities

Beverley Harrison

Director, Further Education, Department for the Economy

Keith Forster

Strategic Policy Division, Department for the Economy

Niall Casey

Director, Skills and Strategy Solutions, Invest NI

Victor Dukelow

Director, EU Exit Trade and Migration, Department for the Economy

Shane Murphy

Director, Analytical Services, Department for the Economy

David McKeown

Invest NI

Nicola Fisher

Analytical Services, Department for the Economy

Justin Kerr

EU Exit Division, Department for the Economy

Donna Blaney

Further Education Division, Department for the Economy

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Workshop moderators and note-takers

Members of the Project Team and the Department for the Economy acted as moderators and note-takers during the workshops in October 2019 and January 2020.

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OECD missions to Northern Ireland

The OECD held four missions to Northern Ireland between June 2019 and January 2020 and met with a broad range of stakeholders, representing departments, government agencies, employer associations, trade unions, education and training providers, research institutions and many more. The OECD would like to thank all participants for their invaluable contributions to the project. The missions included large interactive workshops, in-depth thematic sessions and other meetings.

Mission 1: Kick-off mission (11-12 June 2019)

The main objectives of this mission were to discuss Northern Ireland’s main policy priorities, discuss the proposed priority areas for the project, identify potential areas to address within each of these priority areas, and evaluate options and timing for workshops and select key dates for these events. This mission included the following elements:

  • Project team meetings (11/12 June 2019): Two meetings with the Skills Strategy team of the Department for the Economy to discuss the work plan and the next steps.

  • Technical-level meeting (11 June 2019): Meeting with representatives from various departments of the government of Northern Ireland to discuss proposed priority areas for the project.

  • Working lunch with business representatives (11 June 2019): Working lunch with key business representative bodies to discuss their policy priorities and to engage them in the project.

  • Meeting political parties (11 June 2019): Meeting with political representatives to raise awareness of the project.

Mission 2: Skills Strategy Seminar mission (24-25 September 2019)

In the second mission of the Skills Strategy project, the OECD visited Northern Ireland to discuss the project with the Project Team and the Skills Strategy Project Board. The main objectives of this mission were to officially launch the project, to discuss the proposed priority areas for the project, and to plan the upcoming Assessment Mission. This mission included the following elements:

  • Skills Strategy seminar (24 September 2019): The official start of the OECD Skills Strategy project in Northern Ireland, beginning with the high-level OECD Skills Strategy Seminar. The seminar convened policy makers and senior officials from all departments of the Northern Ireland Government, except the Department of Justice, in a high-level public event.

  • Technical-level meeting (24 September 2019): A meeting with the Project Board, to discuss the main skills policy priorities for Northern Ireland, and the scope and main challenges in each of the four priority areas.

  • Project Team meeting (25 September 2019): A Project Team meeting to discuss the main findings from this mission and to plan the Assessment Mission.

Mission 3: Assessment Mission (15-18 October 2019)

The Assessment Mission was organised to discuss the project and its priorities with the Project Team, and to undertake a series of workshops and group discussions to discuss the OECD’s initial assessment of the skills landscape in Northern Ireland, including our first draft list of opportunities and related recommendations. This mission included the following elements:

  • Group discussions (15 October 2019): A series of four separate group discussions were convened with a select group of stakeholders (senior officials from relevant departments; educational establishments; employer groups; curriculum experts, etc.). In each of these meetings, OECD representatives introduced the OECD Skills Strategy as a strategic framework. Participants then discussed Northern Ireland’s main priority areas through a tour de table, with the OECD moderating each discussion.

  • Assessment Workshop (16 October 2019): The main purpose of this workshop was to collect detailed insights into Northern Ireland’s performance and initiatives in each of the four priority areas, from a broad spectrum of relevant stakeholders, ultimately to support the analysis in the OECD’s final report. The workshop was also designed to build awareness of the challenges and opportunities in each priority area, and to encourage stakeholders to identify the most important areas for recommendations. Over 100 representatives participated in the workshop, including policy makers; officials from several government departments and public agencies; representatives from across the educational spectrum; curriculum experts; trade unions; representatives from employers; and representatives from the voluntary and community sector.

  • Derry/Londonderry Workshop (17 October 2019): This workshop followed the same objective and format as the previous day’s event in Belfast, albeit on a reduced scale in terms of the number of participants (approximately 50), as well as the time available to consider each opportunity and related recommendations. The discussions followed roughly the same format as the previous day. The majority of participants were from educational establishments; training providers and employer representatives.

  • Meeting with political party representatives (17 October 2019): The objective of this meeting was to discuss the main skills policy priorities for Northern Ireland, and the scope and main challenges in each of the four priority areas. The purpose of the meeting was to gain an insight into the skills policy priorities from a political perspective, to ascertain whether they were in line with the views being offered by the other stakeholders over the course of the Assessment Mission.

  • Project Team meetings (15/18 October 2019): Meetings to discuss the (anticipated) outcomes from this Assessment Mission and to subsequently agree the next steps, once those outcomes had been formally identified.

Mission 4: Recommendations Mission (21-24 January 2020)

The Recommendations Mission was organised to discuss the project and its draft recommendations with the Project Team, and to undertake a series of workshops and group discussions to test those draft recommendations. This mission included the following elements:

  • Group discussions (21 January 2020): Two meetings were held in parallel: one with the Skills Strategy Project Board, and another with representatives of Northern Ireland’s political parties. Participants discussed Northern Ireland’s priority areas and the OECD’s draft recommendations through a tour de table.

  • Recommendations Workshop (22 January 2020) Belfast: The main purpose of this workshop was to collect detailed insights into Northern Ireland’s performance in each of the four priority areas from a broad spectrum of relevant stakeholders, ultimately to support, amend, and refine the OECD’s draft recommendations. The workshop was also designed to build awareness of the challenges and opportunities in each priority area, and to encourage stakeholders to identify the most important recommendations. Approximately 120 representatives participated in the workshop, including policy makers; officials from several government departments and public agencies; representatives from across the educational spectrum; curriculum experts; trade unions; representatives from employers; and representatives from the voluntary and community sector.

  • Derry/Londonderry Workshop (23 January 2020): This workshop followed the same objective and format as the previous day’s event in Belfast, albeit on a reduced scale in terms of the number of participants (approximately 40), as well as the time available to consider the draft recommendations. The majority of participants were from educational establishments; training providers; employer representatives; and the local council and their inputs provided a very useful local perspective.

  • Dungannon Workshop (23 January 2020): This workshop followed a plenary format with approximately 40 participants who were all members of the Mid-Ulster Skills Forum (educational establishments, local councillors and employer representatives). The OECD introduced the main draft recommendations in each priority area, and then moderated discussions in plenary format with the participants.

  • Other meetings (21/23 January 2020): A meeting was held with Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre to discuss its recent research (as yet unpublished) into the impact of automation on Northern Ireland. The discussion centred on areas of commonality between this research and the OECD’s Skills Strategy project work. The OECD also met representatives from the UK Independent Commission on the College of the Future to discuss potential areas of commonality with the Secretariat and two Commissioners of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future.

  • Project team meetings (21/23 January 2020): In these meetings the OECD set out the intended purpose and itinerary of the mission, clarified the workshop methodologies, presented the outcomes of the mission, and discussed the next steps.

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