The consultation envisages a new system of youth training which will be recognised nationally and internationally by young people, their parents and guardians, employers and further and higher education providers for its quality, flexibility and transferability.
Addressing the Assembly during an oral statement the Minister said: “The proposals within this consultation have the potential to establish a new youth training system which will form a key part of our wider education and skills landscape
In a major departure from current provision and for the first time in Northern Ireland, youth training will be available to all young people aged 16–24 who require training at level 2, regardless of where they reside on their employment and learning journey.
Importantly, this will include young people who have already entered the job market but do not have the comparable skills and training proposed under the new system.
“Today marks the beginning of building and sustaining a new vision on how we provide training for the next generation. The proposed system balances the needs of young people with the requirements of employers. It is focused on building and rebalancing our economy, key strategic priorities for the Executive, by investing directly in people and providing opportunities for personal development and fulfilment, and, consequently, delivering the skills required for the economy.”
The consultation report sets out a range of interventions and serves as a blueprint for Northern Ireland’s future youth training system. It contains 26 different proposals, grouped under four different themes, namely the core components of the youth training system, supporting young people, delivery and employer engagement structures and ensuring quality.
The Minister continued: “The youth training system will provide a new baccalaureate-style professional and technical award at level 2, the curriculum content of which will be informed by employers in order to better match demand and supply. It will incorporate structured work-based learning for all participants, including an employment-based pathway.
“The system will provide flexible routes and support mechanisms to make training accessible to all young people, and facilitate progression into apprenticeships, further or higher education, and directly or indirectly into sustained employment.
“By linking a new baccalaureate-style professional and technical award to the needs of employers and the wider economy, the youth training system will better match demand and supply, and provide a seamless progression route for young people to a breadth of professional and technical occupations.
“However, immediate progression is not the only aspiration that I have for this new system, as the proposed model will provide young people with a foundation to support their lifelong learning and provide the stepping stone needed to allow them to adapt and progress in the modern workplace.
“I believe that this new system of youth training will deliver a foundation of knowledge and expertise which will contribute to the skills required by the economy, improve social mobility and facilitate lifelong learning. I encourage all stakeholders involved, including young people, their parents or guardians and employers, to have their input by responding to the consultation by the 10 February 2015.”
Particular efforts are being made to gather the views of young people on the new approach, including their views on the branding and marketing of youth training going forward. Based on engagement with the Commissioner for Children and Young People the Department will be incorporating innovative best practice into our work with young people.
This process will begin with a workshop, involving young people, to develop an animated version of the consultation, followed by focus groups with young people starting in December. The Department will also hold road-show events to further gather the views of employers, training providers and other interested stakeholders.
A copy of the new Review of Youth Training Interim Report and Consultation Document and the oral statement can be found at http://www.delni.gov.uk/review-of-youth-training. The public consultation period will run from 18 November 2014 to 10 February 2015.