Skills for the future report

New All-Party Group for Skills launched

In April 2024, the newly established All-Party Group for Skills held its first meeting, having been founded in October 2023.

All-party groups are comprised solely of MLAs as members, and are often enabled through outside groups which attend meetings and inform and support the group’s work using its expertise in the topic.

Notably, APGs are not formal Assembly groups and do not possess any formal powers such as the ability to summon witnesses or documentation, or formally develop policy for the Executive.

APGs are, however, useful in that they inform MLAs and generally give the group of MLAs access to finance for further research to be conducted, and this can then be used for lobbying the Executive to enact policy with experts in the industry providing their backing.

The APG for Skills outlines its purpose as being: “To facilitate and enable discussion, engagement and action on the key policy issues impacting our skills system; drawing on the knowledge of policy experts, industry leaders, education and training providers, and those with experience of the skills system.”

Speaking at the new APG’s launch on 11 April 2024, Sorcha Eastwood MLA, the chair of the group, said: “Fundamentally, skills are about people, opportunities, and innovation.

“Skills policy is crucial to our society, and it is a major issue for every industry and every area of public services. For example, it is a top priority for businesses, the health and social care sector, the arts, agriculture, and our net zero energy transition.”

With Alliance MLA Eastwood as its chair, the APG for skills is vice-chaired by SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin.

The groups other members are: Cathy Mason MLA, Sinn Féin; Diane Dodds MLA, DUP; Kellie Armstrong MLA, Alliance Party; Danny Donnelly MLA, Alliance Party; Claire Sugden MLA, Independent; Nick Mathison MLA, Alliance Party; Connie Egan MLA, Alliance Party; and Sian Mulholland MLA, Alliance Party.

The group has thus far received funding of under £250 by The Open University and has held one meeting.

John D’Arcy, Director of The Open University (OU) in Ireland, says that the OU “look forward to engaging with sector bodies, providers, and government to gather evidence, views, and ideas for the All-Party Group to consider as its work programme rolls out”.

Show More
Back to top button