Monday 20 October 2014


Middle East delegates arrive in Belfast today for an international skills seminar.

They are here to learn how Northern Ireland leads the way in careers guidance, with talks from senior policy makers including the Department of Education’s Deputy Secretary, Katrina Godfrey, and Catherine Bell, the Deputy Secretary at the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL).

The week-long event, entitled Career Guidance for a Global Economy, is organised by British Council Northern Ireland in conjunction with the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and the Department of Education (DE) and will also see discussions with key stakeholders including the Sector Skills Councils, schools, universities and local employers.

The seminar will provide delegates with an insight into UK policy and practice in the field of careers education and guidance, with a specific focus on the system in Northern Ireland. Throughout the week, delegates will hear from, and have the opportunity to meet, senior policy makers and those delivering careers education and guidance in Northern Ireland and the other UK countries. 

The delegates, who hail from Iraq, Jordan, UAE, Albania and Pakistan, will  also have the opportunity to visit institutions and careers centres to see first-hand how services are delivered, including the pioneering new Interaction and Animation Studio at the University of Ulster’s York Street campus. 

According to Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry, Northern Ireland is an ideal location to host such a seminar. He said: “I welcome that Northern Ireland has been selected to host such an important seminar in respect of careers provision.  My Department’s Careers Service plays a vital role in ensuring that clients are equipped with the necessary information and advice to help them make an informed career decision.  

“The current review of careers provision demonstrates my ongoing commitment to building on what is an already excellent service to ensure all our people have access to a first class service fit for the 21st century and importantly supports the rebuilding and rebalancing of our economy.”

Speaking ahead of the event, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director at British Council Northern Ireland said: “We are really pleased to have been able to bring this international skills seminar to Northern Ireland for the first time in partnership with DE and DEL. 

“The international seminar is offered as part of the British Council’s flagship programme for skills development and vocational education, Skills for Employability (SfE). SfE works through the themes of skills, enterprise and English to support the development of education strategies that ensure that young people are better prepared for the world of work.”

And according to Mr Stewart such an event has never been timelier.

He said:  “The global job market is currently undergoing some of the most radical and rapid changes we have ever seen. With this change comes new roles and careers, requiring new knowledge and skills. Those providing careers education and guidance must ensure that current and future generations of employees are aware of the requirements of the modern workplace and are developing the appropriate skills and knowledge.  

“The British Council is pleased to be able to work with partners to showcase best practice from Northern Ireland to an international audience.”

Speaking at the event was Greg Maguire, Professor of Animation at the University of Ulster. He said: “Northern Ireland has a strong reputation as a leader in the creative industries thanks to TV and film productions such as Game of Thrones and a thriving gaming and animation sector. The University of Ulster partners with industry to identify and fill skills gaps with employment-ready graduates. These highly skilled individuals are helping the sector to flourish and driving economic growth for the region.” 

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. For more information visit or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI