Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Boost for skills in education sector

A unique approach to developing skills has been announced at the annual conference of the Learning and Skills Development Agency Northern Ireland (LSDA).

College of the Future is a joint project involving LSDA, Microsoft and Southern Regional College (SRC) in Newry.

The project will explore how Microsoft's latest technology can support education and how colleges can adapt to meet the needs of students in the future.

The project was unveiled at the LSDA conference at Galgorm Resort and Spa by Mitch Benson, Microsoft Worldwide's managing director of education.

Trevor Carson, director of LSDA, said the project would help colleges address the needs of Northern Ireland's economy.

"We envisage that this project will assist in providing a strategy for educators as they embrace technology and meet the needs of learners and employers."

Stephanie Conville, Microsoft's business manager for Northern Ireland's education sector said the project would involve the use of Microsoft's Live@Edu platform, providing the latest communication and collaborative services for learners and lecturers.

"We believe that this project will demonstrate how our services can be incorporated into course delivery and provide a better experience for learners," she said.

The conference was sponsored by City and Guilds. US experts on education and skills who addressed delegates included Gerri Fiala, director of workforce research at the National Centre on Education and the Economy and Dr Bruce Leslie of The Alamo Community Colleges in Texas.

The conference was attended by over 250 delegates and is the key event in the post-16 education and training sector this year.

Mr Carson said the theme of the conference, Skills: Delivering a demand led system, addressed the need for skills development in the workforce.

"With the Leitch Review and Skills Strategy in Northern Ireland, as well as the implementation of FE Means Business, the sector has to focus on being a demand led sector which is responsive to its customers needs, be they individuals, business and industry or the community."

Delegates joined workshops on the curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds, the merger process, five nations policy forum and employer engagement.