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Northern Ireland’s six regional Further Education (FE) Colleges have joined together to launch a business engagement campaign, “Let’s do Business” to promote their services to local employers and businesses. The Let’s do Business campaign aims to raise the profile of FE Colleges as a “first port of call’ for businesses who want to re-skill or up-skill their workforce or who are interested in how they can diversify and innovate.   

Further Education colleges have a range of funded training and mentoring programmes, bespoke training and initiatives available to local employers who wish to grow their business through increased profitability or product development, as well as budding entrepreneurs who require assistance in turning their business idea into a commercial reality. They can also help with recruitment, accessing funding and technical expertise to bring new products to market 

The 6 FE Colleges currently provide a broad spectrum of bespoke business activities and to date have supported over 10,000 businesses.  They are a springboard for providing the skilled workforce for the future in terms of Apprenticeships, Higher Level Apprenticeships and work placements. 

A new dedicated website, has been created to help employers identify the college best suited to their business’s needs, provide information on funding opportunities and establish better collaborative relationships.

Speaking at a recent engagement event, Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education at the Department for the Economy said: "Further Education’ plays a vital role in enhancing and strengthening the skills profile of Northern Ireland by addressing the skills deficit and so underpinning the creation of a successful regional economy. Further Education assists businesses to innovate and grow so increasing competitiveness across the region. The sector provides a strong collaborative offering across the region aligned strongly to the economic priorities at regional and sub-regional level. I would encourage businesses both small and large to explore they can benefit from the assistance and expertise of the colleges.” 

Local FE Colleges are a valuable resource for employers offering support to develop a wide range of new technologies and specialisms. Each college has developed expertise in specific areas and employers have access to support from any of the Northern Ireland colleges.

Practical business support solutions include:

  • Product Design & Prototyping;
  • Improving manufacturing processes;
  • Innovation;
  • Business Improvement Techniques;
  • Market Research and Marketing;
  • Computer Systems & Software applications including free Open Source Software options.

A majority of companies work with Colleges through knowledge transfer programmes and other business support services that utilize College expertise and resources to help grow their business.

  • Invest Northern Ireland Innovation (INI) Voucher Scheme
  • Knowledge Transfer Programmes - including KTP & Fusion
  • Mentoring & Consultancy
  • Open Source IT support Programme
  • Interact Programme
  • ApprenticeshipsNI
  • Manufacture – Innovate – Grow (MIG) Programme
  • Carbon Zero N
  • Connected Programme
  • Invest NI Enterprise Development Programme (EDP)