Belfast Telegraph

Why tomorrow's managers and leaders need STEM skill-set to excel

Friday is the deadline for entry to the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in association with British Airways. The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) is sponsoring the Excellence in Development of Management and Leadership category

By Stephen Farry

Securing our Success, the Apprenticeship Strategy for Northern Ireland, included the development of a Skills Barometer. The barometer was commissioned to identify the skills needs of employers and the level of skills supplied through education institutions, to help inform government policy decisions. I launched the results from the Skills Barometer on November 12 at an event at the Belfast Metropolitan College, Titanic Quarter.

The barometer is an innovative tool which provides a detailed understanding of the skill requirements for our economy under a high-growth scenario up to 2025, with forecasts of the demand and supply of skills by level and sector.

Summary of findings

The tool clearly highlights that there will be a strong need in our economy for people with intermediate and graduate level skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related subjects. There will also be growth opportunities for all skills levels across a range of sectors - however the focus will be predominately on higher level skills. It also identifies a strong emphasis on developing employability skills.

The most acute shortage has been identified in mid-level skills which will create a demand for programmes such as higher level apprenticeships (HLA) and foundation degrees. I am reassured that our approach to raising skills through the apprenticeship and youth training strategies, promotion of STEM, widening access to higher education and achieving excellence in further education is the correct one. 

How will it be used?

A key feature of the model is the flexibility it brings. It can support the development of any future economic and skills-related strategies and the forthcoming Programme for Government, allowing modelling for comprehensive spending reviews as well as any wider changes in our economic environment.

The findings will also be relevant in shaping policy across all areas of the department's skills provision, including youth training, apprenticeships, further education and higher education. It will also act as a driver for the further development of careers education, information, advice and guidance, as it will provide information on the current and future labour market opportunities, as well as employment prospects, by level of education and by subject area. Businesses will be able to see subjects and sectors where demand is high and where they may need to invest in training.

As an example of how the skills barometer is already being used, as part of the implementation of the new apprenticeship and youth training strategies, DEL is taking forward a project which will develop new curriculum and content for the full range of new traineeships and level three apprenticeships to be introduced through Northern Ireland's new system of professional and technical training. New content is being developed and my department has used the skills barometer to identify those priority sectors and occupations where labour market opportunities will be greatest. New content for traineeships and level three apprenticeships are being developed in these priority areas first to ensure our new system of apprenticeships and youth training is targeted at addressing the priority skills needs of the economy.

We have also been working with further education colleges and universities to develop higher level apprenticeships in occupational areas consistent with the findings of the skills barometer.

The Skills Barometer Report can be found at

Award categories

1. Excellence in Marketing

2. Excellence in Exporting, sponsored by FedEx

3. Excellence in the Development of Management and Leadership, sponsored by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL)

4. Excellence in Innovation

5. Best Use of Digital and/or Social Media

6. Young Businessperson of the Year, sponsored by Almac

7. Excellence in Technology

8. Best Small/Medium Business

9. Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility

10. Outstanding Contribution to the Tourism and/or the Hospitality Industry

Judges' Awards, sponsored by British Airways:

11. Businessperson of the Year

12. The overall Business of the Year

High-profile publicity a boon for all companies

The closing date for entries is noon this Friday.

To enter the awards, please log on to

Winners of each of the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards will enjoy the high profile of positive publicity based on an assessment made by our professional judging panel. The gala awards dinner will take place on Thursday, April 21, at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood.

A table of 10 is £1,200 plus VAT and individual places are £130 plus VAT.

For further information on the awards, contact Sarah Weir (JPR) on or call 028 9076 0066.

Belfast Telegraph


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