It is a short, demand-led, pre-employment training programme, delivered through an Assured Skills Academy model, and fully funded by the Department for the Economy, to upskill individuals and help them compete for guaranteed job vacancies in new Foreign Direct Investment companies and expanding businesses.
Training is undertaken at the Further Education Colleges and universities. The Academies run for approximately 6-8 weeks and participants receive £150 weekly training allowance, along with travel expenses and help with childcare costs where appropriate.
Working with companies like Microsoft, PwC, FinTru and other new and growing businesses, the Assured Skills Academy model ensures that those who successfully complete the Academy are 'work ready'. The Academy provides the participant with an insight into the work of their potential employer, whilst learning new transferable skills. If the participant of the Academy is unsuccessful in gaining employment with the participating company, they will have gained additional skills that are recognised within that sector in Northern Ireland.
Since the programme was first introduced, as a pilot in 2011, it has delivered training Academies in financial services, insurance, professional software development, robotics, cyber security along with other industry relevant skills. Over the years the programme has evolved and gone from strength-to-strength upskilling over 385 individuals last year, (2019/20) with over 305 securing jobs. During 2019/20 Assured Skills delivered a total of 22 Academies, with two of those Academies having recruitment paused because of the impact of COVID19.
The programme welcomes applications from unemployed and underemployed applicants who meet the entry criteria for each Academy. The programme is hugely successful with approximately 80% of academy participants going onto secure employment.
During the pandemic, the Assured Skills team reacted quickly to the needs of business and in working closely with both Further and Higher Education training providers, successfully transitioned from classroom based learning to delivering online Academies.
Companies coming out of lockdown are very encouraged by this new way of remote learning and online Academies offer a new career path to those whose jobs have been impacted by COVID19.
Online Academies are continuing throughout the pandemic and in the first four months of this financial year eight academies were at various stages of delivery with one completed. Training has covered areas such as financial services, data analytics and consultancy.
The Assured Skills programme helps more people into better jobs and supports those individuals looking for a new career opportunity by upskilling them, for free, in the skills needed by new and growing businesses.