Transforming the 14–19 education and skills system in Northern Ireland – youth voices and solutions

Transforming the 14–19 education and skills system in Northern Ireland – youth voices and solutions

This report aims to explore questions raised in our previous policy review in December 2020, through new research undertaken with people with experience of the education and skills system .

We sought primarily to hear from young people about their current experiences and vision for future change. The report also includes insights from key stakeholders who support young people; parents and carers, teachers, and other professionals working across education, industry and voluntary sectors. Together we wanted to hear views and ideas to help develop evidence–based and user–informed recommendations for change.

Improving skills is a key element of the Northern Ireland Executive’s plans to revitalise the economy. This report argues that transformational change is needed in the education and skills system for 14–19 year olds, to address skills gaps and to ensure that all young people meet their potential.

Findings from surveys, interviews and focus groups revealed five major themes:

1.      Developing employability and life skills

2.      Experience of careers guidance and advice

3.      Understanding of career pathways and the labour market

4.      Attitudes toward Further Education and vocational pathways

5.      Barriers to engagement in the education and skills system

We developed three major policy recommendations based on our user–led research:

1.      Employability and skills training should have greater emphasis throughout the curriculum to prepare young people for life after education

2.      Careers advice should be innovative, responsive and accessible to young people and parents/ carers

3.      The status of vocational education must be elevated through effective working across education providers

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