Manufacturing NI & Skills

The field of manufacturing is always changing, and the skills needed to be a successful manufacturing firm continually needs updating.

Over the last twelve months much has been achieved to promote jobs and careers in the manufacturing industry.

There have been a series of engagements with key stakeholders across Northern Ireland and a focus on developing relationships with government Departments to influence the direction of a new Skills Strategy which is better aligned to meet the skills challenges of manufacturers.

Manufacturing NI now sits on the new Skills Strategy Project Board to oversee the development of a whole of government Skills Strategy to 2030.


Apprenticeships are a bloodline to the Manufacturing sector and our work in this area continues to focus on;

  • Maintaining and supporting existing apprenticeships
  • Continuing to support and promote a new pipeline through schools and colleges
  • Continuing to promote vocational training and work-based learning

Manufacturing NI participated on the central working group which helped to deliver the  inaugural Apprenticeship NI Week in February 2020, which returned in 2021 and again in 2022.

Having worked closed with the Skills Branch of The Department of Economy since the start of the pandemic, we welcomed the recent decisive action taken to introduce a series of much needed financial support to recruit and retain apprenticeships during this difficult time.

For more information on Apprenticeships- click here

Details of schemes 

Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result Scheme

Recruitment of New Apprenticeships


Putting People First

Given the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, owner-managers are faced with a multitude of competing daily priorities.  They want to feel empowered to drive their business forward with an up-to-date knowledge of emerging technologies, innovation within their sector, regulatory changes and new standards and optimising their supply chain.   The success in achieving these outcomes ultimately comes down to its people and a key question asked by all business owners and managers is whether they have the right people with the right skills to help them grow their business, manage cost, and increase their customer base.

Steps to consider:

  • Ensure your employees are safe and know the sanitation rules of in the workplace. Where possible and necessary, assess mobility policies to encourage remote working.  Instruct employees who are sick to stay home until they are better and eliminate non-essential travel.
  • Discuss change management and flexible work arrangements devising new ways of working that involve more remote workers and automation on the factory floors. 
  • Assess strategies and plans to retain and deploy the workforce and establish risk mitigation programs for employees who still need to work on-site. Invest in educating front-line employees who have to be on-site to ensure they know how to minimize the spread of disease and what to do if they’re feeling ill. 
  • Outsource functions that can trim operating costs

To help with the management of key staff, reskilling and redeployment, Manufacturing NI has teamed up with two local companies.


HR Locker:  An online HR software system making the management of staff, and solving employment-related issues.  We have teamed up with HR Locker to give members 15% of the cost of their first year’s subscription. 


Talent sensus:  A HR people analytics tool for companies and communities seeking to recover and rebuild their workforce offering Manufacturing NI members a free sign up service at:

Department for the Economy Skills Programmes for Individuals

Assured Skills

If you’re unemployed, under-employed, or want to change career, then ASSURED SKILLS pre-employment training can help you. In the last 2 years over 900 people have secured employment through academies.

Skill Up

If you’re aged 18 and over and eligible to work in Northern Ireland, a range of free accredited courses are available to help you re-train and re-skill, through SKILL UP – the flexible skills programme. The Department for the Economy is supporting free short courses, delivered by the local further and higher education providers.

Department for the Economy Skills Programmes for Businesses


InnovateUs is fully funded by DfE to help small businesses (with fewer than 50 employees) gain the skills they need to engage in innovation activities. Fully funded by the Department for the Economy and delivered by the six local Further Education colleges, the programme provides up to 60 hours of tailored training, either in the workplace, at the college, or online, to develop new products, processes, or services. Businesses can then progress to further innovation to help their growth and development. The Programme provides an important first step for small businesses who wish to gain the skills necessary to engage in innovation. It provides tailored training support to meet the needs of each individual business.

Skills Focus

SKILLS FOCUS aims to support, promote, and facilitate collaborative working between business and colleges, to provide tailored skills provision to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs with fewer than 250 employees) and meet business needs by increasing the skills levels and employability of the existing workforce to qualification at level 2 and above, up to and including Level 7 (master’s degree level). The programme is currently full funded by DfE.

Careers Occupational Information Unit bulletin - Manufacturing

The Department for the Economy’s Careers Service Occupational Information Unit (COIU) has produced a bulletin on Advanced Manufacturing careers in Northern Ireland.

Advanced Manufacturing is an area in which Northern Ireland is already recognised as a global leader. The Department for the Economy’s 10X Economic Vision identified Advanced Manufacturing as one of five priority clusters, with the potential to drive the economy forward, providing more, higher paid jobs.

Through video clips and written articles, this bulletin shares insights from the perspectives of those who work and study in the local Advanced Manufacturing sector, as well as those who teach and support local students of Advanced Manufacturing disciplines. Information on entry routes into the sector and signposts to useful resources for further careers research, are also provided.


Brexit Toolkit

This toolkit will help your business deal with trade and migration issues

Latest News

See the latest news from Manufacturing NI and our member companies

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