Page content

For many years, learning and development has been an essential component in enabling organisations to attract, retain and recruit talent. However, in today’s disruptive business landscape, the growing relevance of development and support of your people is becoming clearer as business conditions shift and workforce roles change.

Over the next decade, skills and talent shortages are expected to increase considerably. In 2020, McKinsey & Co reported that 87% of companies are currently facing skills gaps or expect gaps to emerge in the next five years. Government figures published in the same year show that UK employers invested around £42bn in training annually, with an average spend of £1,530 per employee. The business services sector saw the largest increase in total training expenditure, increasing by 21% in 2019 (£11.4bn).

While the overall proportion and total investment in skills has been declining after a decade of low growth following recent economic uncertainty, employers continue to value skills as a critical component in boosting productivity and business growth.

Recent findings from the 2022 CBI Education and Skills shows most companies surveyed are planning to increase or maintain investment in training and development over the next 12 months.

Increasingly, strategic learning partnerships between education providers and industry are playing a vitally important role in helping businesses build specific skills and knowledge aligned to organisational needs. Learning partnerships can take many forms - from graduate recruitment, student placements, educational consultancy, knowledge transfer and executive education.

When it comes to organisational development, every business’ learning needs are different, and one size does not always fit all. From embarking on a new growth agenda or driving business improvement, some organisations we work with at Ulster University Business School (UUBS) require tailored learning solutions that reflect the unique context of their organisation. In this case, learning and business impact can be maximised through customised executive programmes.

Through partnership and co-creation, tailor-made executive development programmes are designed to deliver real business impact at both an organisational and individual level. We work closely with businesses of all sizes and sectors to understand their unique challenges and strategic goals, co-designing and delivering learning solutions in line with the organisations’ individual requirements.

This joined-up approach to curriculum development ensures issues discussed in the classroom are highly relevant and practical to workplace challenges. Such programmes draw on the latest academic thinking and research to address specific business needs and have a unique blend of academic rigor, contemporary learning design, and practical application.

Given its proactive and flexible nature, UUBS’s programmes take many forms and focus on different disciplines and areas impacting modern businesses including digital transformation, leadership, sustainability, innovation and strategy - with businesses gaining value from the contextualisation of learning, authentic assessment and flexible delivery. This creative approach has led to highly successful mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses such as Axiom, Kainos, Deloitte, TextHelp, PwC and Hastings.

In a recent development, UUBS has partnered with digital transformation experts, Kainos, on a bespoke leadership development programme. The custom-built programme has equipped Kainos with diverse leadership skills to support the acceleration in company expansion and growth.

Lee Collins, Head of Engagement, Culture and Development at Kainos commented:

Our colleagues were involved from the start, and we designed the programme and modules to complement their personal learning and development. Ulster University’s Business School team challenged us to identify our business needs and gaps and matched those to best practice in global leadership development. The whole experience has been described as world-class by our staff who continue to bring diverse and valued leadership qualities to Kainos here in NI and further afield.

More recently, UUBS has partnered with Derry~Londonderry-based Insurtech specialists, Alchemy Technology Services, to deliver a new customised training programme to develop the company’s next generation of emerging leaders. Academic experts from UUBS worked in partnership with Alchemy’s leadership team to design an accredited leadership development programme that focused on enhancing leadership capabilities, knowledge, and behaviours.

According to Alchemy Founder and CEO John Harkin:

Leadership skills which equip us for the future are crucial to the success of our business and this bespoke programme allows our people to deep dive into real world business challenges as well as benefit from world class expertise in business and leadership. The team at Ulster University Business School has provided us with an excellent experience, both in understanding our business needs and supporting the growth of our team.

At a time of progressive change, many businesses are requiring unique skill sets and knowledge to operate in a fast-changing environment - this co-creation model could be timely in helping your business unlock new value and future-proof your business.
Find out more about our customised programmes and strategic learning partnerships by contacting the UUBS Business Engagement Team at