The highly ambitious Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD), signed in December 2021, arrives at a critical time. The Deal represents a new way of working between central and local government and regional partners and secures a bespoke package of investment from central government and the BRCD partners of more than £850 million to support the delivery of our shared vision of:
“Inclusive economic growth that delivers more and better jobs, a positive impact on the most deprived communities and a balanced spread of benefits across the region”.
The BRCD partners have worked with the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to secure the Deal, with each government partner committing to invest £350m over the lifetime of the deal.
The substantial financial commitment, which will be further supplemented by the private sector, will generate up to 20,000 jobs as it is delivered over the next 10-15 years - an exciting, once in a generation opportunity to accelerate economic growth for the region in an inclusive and sustainable way.
This Deal will strengthen the region’s offer in growth sectors such as life and health sciences, the digital and creative industries, and advanced manufacturing. It will support next generation digital capabilities, boost tourism and support the regeneration of our region, underpinned by infrastructure developments and investment in skills to connect people to jobs and services.
The BRCD involves an integrated programme of investment that cuts across the responsibilities of local councils, the Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government. The BRCD partners comprises Belfast City Council, five partner councils, two universities and four of the region’s further education colleges (Belfast Met, Northern Regional College, Southern Regional College and South Eastern Regional College).
Southern Regional College is proud to be part of the Belfast Region City Deal and is looking forward to working collaboratively with the BRCD partners to develop the pipeline of skills required to respond to the employment opportunities created through this deal.
More information can be found at Belfast Region City Deal.
Employability & Skills
Southern Regional College has played a leading role, alongside our BRCD partners, to inform and shape the Employability and Skills Proposition which sets out how the partners will work together to maximise the benefits of the city deal capital investment.
The BRCD partners expect up to 20,000 jobs to be created through the city deal investments, offering employment opportunities at all skill levels and across a range of priority growth sectors.
The College is a key member of the Employability and Skills Board and is developing an action plan which will help prepare the pipeline of skills and talent and align it to the employment which will be created. This activity will draw primarily from the existing employability and skills resources realigned to BRCD needs, as well as identifying ambitions to deliver new interventions, subject to funding availability. We’ll be supporting those seeking to enter into the labour market and those keen to upskill or reskill to progress in their careers.
The BRCD will have a significant impact on the future collaborative delivery model for Work-Based Learning (WBL) and Employability Programmes across NI over a 10-year period from 2020-2030 with a target for the creation of up to 20,000 jobs.
The BRCD Employability and Skills Proposition has three themes at its heart.
- Skills for inclusion: involves creating opportunities to address skills imbalances and creating access to employment opportunities across the region by developing socially inclusive progression pathways.
- Skills for growth: means working with employers and partners to align skills programmes and employment opportunities with the growth in sectors supported by the Belfast Region City Deal and enabling the development of new apprenticeship pathways.
- Skills for a digital future: proposes building digital literacy from grassroots up and enhancing regional business digital transformation.
The partners’ approach is specifically aligned to the current and future business needs of the Belfast city region and will seek to create an exemplary system of education, skills and employability. The proposition seeks to build a platform for talent and skills which will match the needs of our new and future priority industries in digital, renewables, life sciences and creative industries, while also ensuring the ongoing success of our more established and crucial industries in tourism, hospitality, manufacturing, and construction.
You can find out more about the Employability and Skills programme here Belfast City Region Deal - Employability & Skills
The Digital Futures Programme was an early success for the BRCD Partnership. In early 2020, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic began, we established a Digital ‘Task and Finish’ group, recognising the need to consider how BRCD could support recovery in an inclusive, sustainable and resilient way. The impact of COVID-19 underlined that digital technology is a critically important component for business and society.
The Task and Finish group sought to fast track the region’s digital transformation with a joined-up approach to supporting digital inclusion by increasing digital skills and supporting pathways into employment, focusing on current and future employer needs. One of the new interventions we delivered was the Digital Futures Programme.
The Digital Futures Programme aims to enable graduates seeking careers in the IT industry, or in digitally-focused roles, to develop industry relevant digital skills. Supported by the Department for the Economy and delivered by Further Education colleges, the programme offered training in Cloud Computing, Data Analytics or Cyber Security, followed by a 10-week internship with a local employer to offer practical experience. There was no cost to employers and all Digital Futures participants received a training allowance.
As well as offering a rapid response to the increasing need for digital skills in the Belfast city region, Digital Futures also offered graduates from non-technological disciplines an opportunity to reskill in an area with greater opportunities for employment. It also demonstrated how, through collaboration, agility and an innovative approach, partners can develop solutions that respond to challenges as they emerge.
More information about the Digital Futures programme can be found here at Digital Futures.