Skills for the future report

Open College Network NI: Empowering individuals and recognising achievement

In the dynamic landscape of education, where opportunities for learning are as diverse as the students themselves, Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN) stands out as a beacon of innovation and inclusivity.

As the awarding body of choice for professional and technical qualifications, OCN is dedicated to empowering learners of all backgrounds and abilities, recognising their achievements, and fostering a culture of lifelong learning.

Our mission is to develop and award qualifications which engage, enrich and equip learners for life.

Central to the ethos of OCN is the belief in the transformative power of education. By providing opportunities for personal and professional development, OCN enables individuals to realise their full potential, pursue their passions, and make meaningful contributions to society. Whether it is supporting adult learners in upskilling for new career opportunities or helping young people transition from education to employment, OCN plays a vital role in building a skilled, resilient, and inclusive society.

Contributing to the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland

Earlier this year OCN launched its strategic plan which sets out our vision, mission, and values, as well as our key priorities and objectives for the next three years. This new strategic plan positions us as a key stakeholder in supporting and contributing to the Department for the Economy’s Skills for a 10X Economy Strategy which aims to transform the skills landscape in Northern Ireland and position the region as a leader in skills development.

One of the key ways in which OCN contributes to this strategy is by facilitating the development, delivery, and award of professional and technical qualifications. These qualifications are designed to meet the specific skills needs of the economy and industry sectors in Northern Ireland. By offering a wide range of professional and technical qualifications, OCN enables individuals to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in their chosen career paths, thereby aligning with the Government’s goal of developing a skilled and competitive workforce.

OCN offers a variety of qualifications and learning pathways, including traineeships, apprenticeships, professional development courses, and many other types of accredited qualifications. By doing so, OCN helps individuals to reskill through achieving higher level qualifications and enhance their employability prospects.

Our vision is for a successful, inclusive society where every learner matters

By working closely with key stakeholders, OCN ensures that its qualifications and training programmes are relevant, up to date, and aligned with the needs of the labour market. This collaborative approach strengthens the connection between education and employment, facilitating a smoother transition for individuals into the workforce and supporting the overall goals of the prioritisation of skills development to meet the economic vision for Northern Ireland.

One example of this collaboration with key stakeholders in Northern Ireland was the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with The Open University in Ireland. The MoU aims to establish a partnership between OCN and OU in Ireland to promote widening access for learners and create suitable progression pathways between OCN qualifications and OU higher education programmes.

Over the coming years, OCN will continue to award high-quality, industry-recognised qualifications and promote the value of lifelong learning to individuals throughout Northern Ireland.


T: 028 90 463 991

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