Principles for Vocational Qualifications in Northern Ireland

Closed 9 Mar 2023

Opened 15 Dec 2022


Purpose of this consultation:

Vocational qualifications are the foundations upon which our vocational education and skills system is built. They are delivered in FE colleges, schools (including Irish Medium schools), private training organisations, the community and voluntary sector and businesses to a wide range of different learners and fulfil a range of different purposes. Vocational qualifications are also delivered within a range of departmental programmes such as ApprenticeshipsNI, Traineeships and Skills for Life and Work.

The purpose of this consultation is to present a set of underpinning principles required to ensure that vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland:

• Continue to support our employer-led and high-quality departmental programmes and initiatives, including apprenticeships;

• Support delivery of our Skills Strategy and support the Department’s vision for economic growth;

• Provide appropriate learner pathways at all stages that are valued by all key stakeholders including employers, parents, learners, educators and policymakers both in Northern Ireland and elsewhere; and

• Can adapt to market changes brought about by policy decisions in England, and unexpected events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These proposed principles for vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland are the result of extensive research and internal and external stakeholder engagement.  The six proposed principles were also subject to review by the Vocational Qualifications Reform Project Board and the Skills Council.

This consultation is running simultaneously with the consultation on Level 4 and 5 provision and HE in FE. Some of the key principles identified in this consultation may be relevant to the options and recommendations for level 4 and 5 provision and HE in FE, given much of HE in FE provision is vocationally focused. We would appreciate feedback on the potential application of the principles in a level 4/5 context.

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Why your views matter

The input provided through this consultation, alongside further evidence gathered in the coming months, will collectively inform the future of vocational provision in Northern Ireland. 

What happens next

Following closure of this consultation, responses will be analysed, and a summary Departmental response drafted and published.


  • Anyone from any background


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