Skills: Build A Foundation For The Future At Your Local College
Access to and the development of a skilled workforce is critical for the success of our members in manufacturing in Northern Ireland. As part of the mix of programme to develop skills, The Department for Employment and Learning recently launched a campaign to raise awareness and understanding of Foundation degrees and to promote this as an option to employers, employees and students. Below we have allowed Dr Stephen Farry Minister for Employment and Learning to outline his views on Foundation Degrees which will be of interest to employers looking to upskill their workforce.
Higher Education is pivotal in the development of a modern, sustainable, knowledge based economy and is not just for school leavers but increasingly, Higher Education has become popular with those already in the workplace.
My Department actively encourages upskilling and reskilling and the Foundation degree route provides an opportunity to work and study at the same time. The Foundation degree particularly appeals to those already in employment who can fit the course in around their existing work, build their skills gain a qualification and improve their career prospects.
Skills are widely accepted as the key raw material required in a modern knowledge-based economy and are one of the main drivers in how we in Northern Ireland will achieve our long term economic goals. Skills help economies make the most of new opportunities in high value added activities. They encourage greater investment and innovation, they help businesses compete in export markets, and ultimately they support economic growth and enhance productivity.
Foundation degrees are higher education qualifications that combine academic study with on-the-job experience developing students' skills and career prospects whilst benefitting employers and their business. Employers are fully involved in the design, development and delivery of the courses. This means Foundation degree students graduate with a very specialised set of skills that meet the specific needs of employers in a particular sector.
Foundation degrees help learners to improve their career prospects by equipping them with the academic knowledge and sector specific skills required to progress in the workplace.
They can be completed on both a full and part-time basis at local colleges, and not only is the Foundation degree a recognised Higher Education qualification but it offers a progression route to an Honours degree at University. It allows flexible study methods and offers a host of benefits that go beyond achieving a qualification. Those who have completed Foundation degrees have reported that they have a new found confidence in their ability, many have achieved promotions in their place of work and others believe that the qualification has opened up new and improved career prospects for the future.
The Foundation degree is ideal for those who have a desire to get ahead, achieve more and obtain a recognised qualification. It is this drive and determination that will shape our economy and with the support of employers there is a real opportunity to develop and motivate staff, increase skill levels in the workplace and reap the rewards of having a more qualified workforce.
My Department recently launched a campaign to raise awareness and understanding of Foundation degrees and to promote this as an option to employers, employees and students. The Foundation degree route offers options for everyone including those who have the skills and expertise but perhaps no formal qualification. Whilst entry requirements will depend on the course and college they do not exclude those who lack formal qualifications. If you have the relevant experience, skills and aptitudes you may be considered through Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). This is a process through which an individual's learning achieved outside education or training systems is assessed and, as appropriate, recognised for academic purposes.
Foundation degrees are critical to a number of my Department's strategies and I am committed to ensuring that Higher Education and Foundation degrees in particular, are available to those looking to improve their skills.
Dr Stephen Farry
Minister for Employment and Learning
For more information, see the following link.