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The skills system in Northern Ireland: Challenges and opportunities

The skills system will be crucial to meeting the challenges and changes facing Northern Ireland in the coming years. The skills system includes the full range of post-16 education, learning and training, including schools, colleges, apprenticeships, in-work training and university. For the purposes of this report, the focus has been on post-school, sub-degree learning. This can often be delivered in colleges, by private training providers (both for and not for profit) and by employers themselves. This research sets out the context in which the skills system in Northern Ireland operates, and attempts to outline the challenges this system faces., It examines: (1) economic factors which determine the context for the skills system, looking at issues like economic performance, labour market trends and the skills in the workforce; (2) the policy context that has shaped the skills system in Northern Ireland, turning to cross-cutting, government-wide policies and those particular to the skills system; (3) the structure of the skills system, and how learning is organised and institutionalised; (4) looming challenges facing the skills system, and indeed Northern Ireland more generally, including automation, the changing nature of globalisation, demographic change across the UK and Brexit. The report concludes by outlining key insights in relation to the skills system, highlighting the key opportunities and challenges facing the skills system in Northern Ireland and to which it needs to respond.