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Skill Up success at Queen’s University

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer and Pro-Vice-Chancellor David Jones welcomed Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA and Minister of State for Northern Ireland Conor Burns to Queen’s today to hear from students about the Skill Up initiative.

Pictured are (l-r): Victoria Welsh, PGCert student; Ashley Neill, PGCert student; Professor David Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students at Queen's University Belfast; Minister of State for Northern Ireland Conor Burns; Seamus Carlin, Clinton Leadership Institute student; Economy Minister Gordon Lyons; Laura Neill, Clinton Leadership Institute student; Professor Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University Belfast; and Emily Courier, PGCert student.

The Skill Up programme is supported by up to £23million from the Department for the Economy and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), and funds local further and higher education providers to deliver more than 20,000 training places in over 250 subject areas.

More than 7,500 people benefitted from the courses in 2021/22 and applications for more free course are now open for 2022/23.

Professor David Jones Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students at Queen’s University Belfast said: “Queen’s is delighted to roll out the Skill Up programme at the university. Around 600 students have already completed the programme this year, with more to follow, and will now enter the workforce with extra skills as a result. Well done to them for all their hard work.

"Skill Up is designed to support skills development in those who may not otherwise get the opportunity, and the range of programmes from digital innovation and green technologies to leadership programmes and biostatistics, means this opportunity is open to a variety of potential students to build their skills. 

"This programme is in line with our commitment to support learning and skills in our local workforce, and to open education up to those who may struggle to access fulltime courses, and we are delighted at the success to date.” 

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I am delighted that Skill Up, with support from the NIO and my Department, has been so successful in its first year. More than 7,500 people took up places, at no cost to themselves, on courses available right across Northern Ireland through our universities and further education colleges.

“Around 7,000 places are now available to apply for in the coming academic year. Courses are primarily online, allowing for greater accessibility and choice for participants. I strongly encourage people who are looking to boost their skill set and, in turn, their employment and career chances, to check out the nidirect website for details of how to apply.”

Minister of State for Northern Ireland Conor Burns said: “The Government is committed to supporting and protecting the interests of people and businesses in Northern Ireland, helping to create jobs and continue to grow Northern Ireland’s economy.

“We want to help people reach their potential with the Skill Up initiative, funded as part of the New Deal for Northern Ireland, giving more than 20,000 people the chance to build their skills and gain better employment.

“The programme, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy, will help to create a pipeline of talent and ensure that the people of Northern Ireland have the ability to shape their local economy as the Government continues its mission to level up across the UK.”

Applications for all courses are open now – full details are at


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