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Engaging Employers and Developing Skills at the Local Level in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

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The success of skills development activities through both on- and off-the job training often depends on the participation of employers. This OECD report on Northern Ireland, United Kingdom identifies a number of innovative programmes that aim to better engage employers in the design and delivery of training. It also looks at the role of local district councils in working closer with employers to better understand and address their skills challenges.

A key part of the project was the implementation of a survey to gather information from Northern Irish employers about their skills needs and barriers to apprenticeship participation. The report offers a number of recommendations for improving business-education partnerships in emerging sectors of the Northern Ireland economy.

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Executive Summary

The Northern Ireland economy has recovered relatively well after the 2008 economic recession, with the unemployment rate sitting at 4.7% in 2017, close to the pre-crisis level. While unemployment is improving, Northern Ireland still has an economic inactivity rate of 28%, which remains persistently above the average of 22% for the United Kingdom (UK). Globalisation, automation and digitalisation will continue to change labour market demands as well as the skills required of people entering employment. Apprenticeship programmes can reduce skills mismatches, and provide a smoother transition into the labour market.

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