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QCAPtures - Recent News

QCAP Supports Residents with Digital Skills Course

Digital inclusion was chosen by residents in the Market as our challenge area for year one of the ‘Growing Up in the Market ’ study.

This was driven, in part, by the community’s experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to better understand how to support families as they recovered from lockdowns. A high number of parents conceded that they lack digital awareness, hindering their ability to fully support their children with homework and creating some apprehension around online communication with the school. This data, coupled with insights from our community partner the Market Development Association (MDA) and their 'Rebuilding the Local Economy' survey, has informed QCAP’s response – to offer residents more opportunities for enhancing digital skills.

In an exciting development, QCAP and the MDA are thrilled to announce the launch of a unique co-designed, Open College Network (OCN) level 2 ICT qualification, developed and delivered in collaboration with W5 LIFE (Learning Innovation for Everyone). The course is intended to directly meet the needs of the community and to demonstrate the value of a place-based approach that involves residents in the design of educational opportunities.


Dr Gareth Robinson, QCAP Dimension Lead for Education and the Knowledge Economy, commented:

The introduction of the ICT OCN Level 2 course – a joint effort with W5 LIFE and the MDA – is a significant development in QCAP’s dimension of place that focuses on education and skills. This course is a direct response to the educational disparities and digital skills gaps highlighted in our ‘Growing up in the Market’ study. By concentrating on these critical areas, we aim to equip our partner communities with the necessary tools to navigate and thrive in the rapidly evolving economic landscape of Northern Ireland.

“In the development of this course, we’ve taken a unique approach by involving the residents in the curriculum design. The collaborative process ensures the course is not only tailored to their needs, but also empowers community members to take charge of their own learning journey. It’s about making education a shared, community-driven experience, which is key to changing how underserved communities engage with our knowledge-based economy and society.

“This partnership with W5 LIFE represents a step towards connecting our community partner to the wider ecosystem of innovation and skills in Belfast, particularly in STEM-related fields. We are confident that by establishing these new connections and focusing on practical, co-created learning experiences, we are setting a precedent for how educational initiatives can directly support and elevate communities, making a positive impact in their daily lives and prospects, in meaningful ways.


Judith Harvey, Group Head of Learning and Engagement at The Odyssey Trust, said:

“We are incredibly proud to be working alongside Queen’s Communities and Place and The Market Development Association to bridge the education, knowledge, and skills gap outlined by members of the Market community, equipping learners at all stages of life. Since opening its doors in 2022, W5 LIFE has been committed to promoting inclusion, diversity, and lifelong learning through a range of STEM-based experiences for people of all ages across Northern Ireland by removing barriers to education, and the launch of this OCN Northern Ireland qualification helps us to continue to do just that.”


Siobhán McDonnell, Educational Lead at The Market Development Association, said:

“The MDA greatly welcomes the upcoming ICT programme delivered by W5 LIFE. There’s a great need for this type of programme locally, especially due to the digital exclusion in adults within the area.

“With several residents returning to Level 3 education, barriers have been identified surrounding a lack of ICT skills, which can be detrimental to the students’ academic progression. The programme will allow residents to successfully continue with their studies and benefit their capacity to do so, massively.”


As we look forward to supporting residents through this course and documenting the programme’s impact on the community over the next few months, we invite interested individuals to learn more about QCAP’s efforts to tackle social challenges and improve outcomes for our community partners.

We would also like to wish each of the students the very best with their studies.