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Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD)

The Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) comprises Northern Regional College, Belfast City Council, five partner councils, the region’s two universities and three of the region’s further education colleges (Belfast Met, SERC and SRC).

Northern Regional College and BRCD partners shared ambition is to accelerate inclusive economic growth for the region and to deliver thousands of new and better jobs, with pathways and support in place to make them accessible to people from all communities.

A successful City Deal is about more than individual areas, it’s about working together to ensure that the deal benefits people living in the whole region, connecting them to more and better jobs and opportunities, and attracting further investment.

This investment will help strengthen the region’s business offer in growth sectors such as life and health sciences, the digital and creative industries, and advanced manufacturing. It will also support next generation digital capabilities, boost tourism and support the regeneration of our region, underpinned by infrastructure developments and investment in skills to connect people to jobs and services.

Northern Regional College is proud to be part of the Belfast Region City Deal and is looking forward to working collaboratively with the BRCD partners to develop the pipeline of skills required to respond to the employment opportunities created through this deal. 

Find out more about the Belfast Region City Deal 

Skills and Employability

Northern Regional College has been involved, alongside our BRCD partners, to inform and shape the Employability and Skills Proposition which sets out how the partners will work together to maximise the benefits of the city deal capital investment.  

The BRCD partners expect up to 20,000 jobs to be created through the city deal investments, offering employment opportunities at all skill levels and across a range of priority growth sectors. 

The College contributes to the Employability and Skills Board and is developing an action plan which will help prepare the pipeline of skills and talent and align it to the employment which will be created.  This activity will draw primarily from the existing employability and skills resources realigned to BRCD needs, as well as identifying ambitions to deliver new interventions, subject to funding availability. We’ll be supporting those seeking to enter into the labour market and those keen to upskill or reskill to progress in their careers.

The BRCD will have a significant impact on the future collaborative delivery model for Work-Based Learning (WBL) and Employability Programmes across NI over a 10-year period from 2020-2030 with a target for the creation of up to 20,000 jobs.

The BRCD Employability and Skills Proposition has three themes at its heart.

  1. Skills for inclusion: involves creating opportunities to address skills imbalances and creating access to employment opportunities across the region by developing socially inclusive progression pathways.
  2. Skills for growth: means working with employers and partners to align skills programmes and employment opportunities with the growth in sectors supported by the Belfast Region City Deal and enabling the development of new apprenticeship pathways. 
  3. Skills for a digital future: proposes building digital literacy from grassroots up and enhancing regional business digital transformation.

The partners’ approach is specifically aligned to the current and future business needs of the Belfast city region and will seek to create an exemplary system of education, skills and employability. The proposition seeks to build a platform for talent and skills which will match the needs of our new and future priority industries in digital, renewables, life sciences and creative industries, while also ensuring the ongoing success of our more established and crucial industries in tourism, hospitality, manufacturing, and construction.

Find out more about the Employability and Skills programme 

Digital Futures

The Digital Futures Programme was an early success for the BRCD Partnership. In early 2020, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic began, we established a Digital ‘Task and Finish’ group, recognising the need to consider how BRCD could support recovery in an inclusive, sustainable and resilient way. The impact of Covid-19 underlined that digital technology is a critically important component for business and society.

The Task and Finish group sought to fast track the region’s digital transformation with a joined-up approach to supporting digital inclusion by increasing digital skills and supporting pathways into employment, focusing on current and future employer needs.  One of the new interventions we delivered was the Digital Futures Programme.

The Digital Futures Programme aims to enable graduates seeking careers in the IT industry, or in digitally-focused roles, to develop industry relevant digital skills.  Supported by the Department for the Economy and delivered by Further Education colleges, the programme offered training in Cloud Computing, Data Analytics or Cyber Security, followed by a 10-week internship with a local employer to offer practical experience.  There was no cost to employers and all Digital Futures participants received a training allowance. 

As well as offering a rapid response to the increasing need for digital skills in the Belfast city region, Digital Futures also offered graduates from non-technological disciplines an opportunity to reskill in an area with greater opportunities for employment.  It also demonstrated how, through collaboration, agility and an innovative approach, partners can develop solutions that respond to challenges as they emerge.