The lifelong learning sector in Northern Ireland, includs:
- 6 further education colleges
- 2 universities, the Open University and 2 university colleges
- 110 work-based learning providers
- 122 public libraries within the Northern Ireland Library Authority
- 25 organisations with a role in archives and records management
- an extensive network of approximately 1,000 statutory and voluntary bodies providing community learning and development, including youth services
- Approximately 44,000 people work in the lifelong learning sector in Northern Ireland.
- 46% of the workforce is aged between 45-64 years, compared with approximately 32% across the workforce for all sectors in Northern Ireland.
- 25% of the youth service workforce is aged between 18-25 years and only 10% is over 50 years.
- 62% of the workforce is female, compared with 46% across all sectors in Northern Ireland.
- 72% of the workforce is employed full-time, compared with 77% across all sectors in Northern Ireland.
- More than 60% of the workforce is employed in professional occupations, such as lecturers or trainers, and 13% are employed in associate professional occupations, such as learning support staff or instructors.
Qualification profile of the workforce:
- 75% of lifelong learning staff hold a qualification equivalent to NVQ level 4 or above, compared with 33% across all sectors in Northern Ireland.
- In further education, 93% of college staff are qualified to NVQ Level 4 or above. This is likely to reflect the statutory requirements on learning provision in Northern Ireland (full-time and associate lecturers in further education without a teaching qualification must complete the recognized teaching qualification for Northern Ireland. Contact University of Ulster for guidance).
- In archives and records management, 75% of archives in Northern Ireland report that their staff hold a higher degree or equivalent.
- In work-based learning, 71% of teachers, tutors and trainers providing work-based learning hold a qualification to NVQ Level 4 or above.
- Trials on a new qualification provided by the University of Ulster are underway with a number of work-based learning organisations, giving them access to a recognised teaching qualification.
Employment trends and future projections
- Despite forecasts of falling workforce numbers in some occupational groups, overall the lifelong learning sector in Northern Ireland is likely to experience an increase in demand.
- It is estimated that over 10,000 people will need to be recruited into the sector over the next 5 years, to fill vacancies largely created by existing staff going into retirement.
Source: The lifelong learning workforce in Northern Ireland Factsheet 2009