OCN awards 46,000 vocational qualifications to learners

Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) Chief Executive Martin Flynn says that the recent award of a record 46,000 vocational qualifications demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to providing accessible and high-quality education opportunities to learners across Northern Ireland.

With thousands of vocational qualifications awarded in August 2023, on the same day as A-level results, Flynn believes that announcing both sets of results on the same day represents a “significant step towards parity of treatment” between A-levels and Level 3 vocational learners”.

“Our team at OCN is immensely proud to have reached this significant milestone,” says the CEO. “We believe in the power of education to transform lives and open doors to countless opportunities. Awarding 46,000 vocational qualifications to learners this summer is a reflection of our dedication to fostering a skilled and competent workforce that contributes to the growth and prosperity of Northern Ireland.

“This summer is also the first year that Qualifications Regulators have taken a significant step towards parity of treatment between A-levels and Level 3 vocational learners. Every August, thousands of learners receive their general qualification results, however, this year learners that completed vocational qualifications and intend to continue in education, including further and higher education, or intend moving into training or employment, received their results on the same day.”

As Northern Ireland’s leading professional and technical awarding body, OCN has been steadfast in its mission to ‘develop and award qualifications that engage, enrich and equip learners for life’.

Over the years, OCN has collaborated with a wide network of education and training providers, which include, schools, further education colleges, community organisations, employers and private training organisations, and has now established itself as a recognised and trusted awarding body.

The 46,000 vocational qualifications awarded this summer encompass a diverse range of subject areas, reflecting the varied interests and career aspirations of learners. These qualifications have been meticulously designed to meet the evolving needs of the job market and equip learners with the practical skills and knowledge required to progress in further education and into employment.

In addition to empowering individual learners, OCN’s vocational qualifications also benefit local employers by providing them with a pool of skilled professionals who are equipped to meet the demands of the modern workplace. As an awarding body, OCN adheres to rigorous quality standards, ensuring that every qualification awarded is a testament to the learner’s competence and proficiency. The organisation remains dedicated to continuous improvement, guided by feedback from learners, educators, and employers.

The six further education colleges, meanwhile, have commended all their students on their results this year.

Leo Murphy, Chairperson of the Further Education Colleges Principals’ Group says: “Congratulations to the OCN on reaching this historic milestone. Further education colleges across Northern Ireland are proud to partner with this trusted awarding body as we work together to provide learners with the opportunity to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills.

“We look forward to seeing the impact of these skills on our economy and across our local communities. Making the decision to enrol on a course and learn a skill continues to enrich the lives and careers of thousands of people across the region. We look forward to seeing similar success in the future.”

OCN remains committed to its vision of ‘a successful, inclusive society where every learner matters’ and this milestone is just the beginning of our commitment to working closely with employers, educational institutions, and other stakeholders to deliver high-quality qualifications and services that meet the changing needs of learners and employers.

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For more information about Open College Network Northern Ireland and its vocational qualifications, please visit

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