The Sector Skills Council for the places where we live and work
The changing landscape in Northern Ireland has shifted employer needs towards a workforce that is competent at a managerial level.
Project management, team working, partnership building and negotiation skills are high in demand as many businesses seek to modernise to take advantage of lucrative new contracts that have come to the province.
Other shifts in workforce trends have included the increase in migrant workers. Integrating these groups is now a key issue for employers and demand is growing for more language training and essential skills programmes.
New policies including the Housing Order 2003 and the Disability Codes of Practice, and initiatives like the Decent Homes and Efficiency Agenda, have created challenges for the housing sector and led to new training requirements. Customer service and management & leadership issues, often cited as problems, have been addressed through our "Supporting People Management & Leadership" programme.
There is still the need to improve the most crucial skills of all - reading, writing and maths - called "Essential Skills" in Northern Ireland. A third of the working population has poor levels of such skills and it is estimated to cost employers thousands of pounds every year.
Asset Skills NI has been instrumental in ensuring schemes are up and running to try and tackle these issues.
We established an Essential Skills project for cleaners using our skills "Champion" or "Ambassador" programme. Employers allowed their staff one day off each week to attend Belfast Metropolitan University to take the training and the learners then brought their knowledge back to the workplace to share with colleagues.
Asset Skills has been working with the DELNI to promote housing as a career choice. Housing in Northern Ireland is not just about building and maintaining homes, it's about making a difference to the communities where people live and work and supporting the people who live there. For more information on the project please visit the website.
Asset Skills has secured funding from the Northern Ireland Executive to pay for property staff to undergo training. The money will subsidise half the course costs for 150 property professionals to undertake the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFOPP) Technical Award. You can read more about this project here.
Research profiles the Northern Ireland facilities management industry and the type of careers involved. Read the findings here.
The main Asset Skills Board in Northern Ireland steers our work with employers. This is also split into two sub-groups - Housing/Property and FM/Cleaning – bringing together industry specialists to focus on specific topics.
Asset Skills works to develop senior level skills programmes for the province, focusing on the areas of greatest need, such as housing. We have promoted new standards of quality through a bespoke training programme developed with Belfast Metropolitan College and developed partnerships to address skills gaps in cleaning and FM.
Our work is grounded in an awareness of the needs of employers and the often sensitive nature of those needs.
Photo shows Adrian Watson, Head of Asset Skills Northern Ireland (left), with Sir Reg Empey, Minister for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland (centre) and Maureen Taggart, Director of Personnel at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Chair of Asset Skills Northern Ireland, back right.
For more information on the work of Asset Skills in Northern Ireland contact Adrian Watson, Head of Asset Skills NI at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07843 211 488. Alternatively, call 0845 678 2 888.