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The Department for the Economy is funding 500 places on the online courses which will upskill and retrain people whose jobs have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The courses, developed by Ulster University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment and Ulster University Business School are a direct response to the Department for the Economy’s call for short-term skills interventions that will protect businesses, mitigate impact on the labour market, are relevant across sectors and are applicable to the greatest part of the workforce.

The current pandemic has had a profound impact on Northern Ireland’s economy with many businesses closing, furloughing workers and struggling to adapt to the new normal. Delivering the necessary skills for an economic bounce-back, these online and innovative courses will provide individuals with an invaluable opportunity to enhance their skills and boost future employment prospects.

Labour market research in Northern Ireland has long identified a number of long-term skills gaps which undermine business competitiveness. The NI Skills Barometer, produced by Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre identifies recruitment difficulties in a number of key subject areas, notably computer science and engineering. There is a deficit in digital skills amongst new recruits and the existing workforce and strong management, leadership and entrepreneurial skills will be essential for businesses to survive post COVID-19.

Addressing both identified sectors and the entrepreneurial mind-set to future proof businesses - such as those in the hospitality, tourism and agri-food sectors - in a post COVID-19 world, the following online skills development courses are available:

  • Postgraduate Certificate Professional Software Development (Data Science)
  • Postgraduate Certificate Artificial Intelligence
  • Flexible Qualifications Computer Aided Design and Manufacture for the Engineering Sector
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Business Analysis and Consulting
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Development (Enabling Business Recovery)

The short courses commence between July and September and must be completed by 30 November 2020.

Professor Paul Bartholomew, Interim Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University said:

“Ulster University is playing a vital role as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. As Northern Ireland’s civic university we are committed to supporting an inclusive recovery through skills and professional development in areas such as computing, engineering, business and leadership.

“This comprehensive skills support initiative is a crucial employability intervention underpinning the immediate need for priority skills and capabilities in the workplace. Creating a region that thrives post COVID-19 is paramount, and these courses will bring real opportunities to those impacted by the pandemic to upskill and retrain in key areas – either by helping candidates improve the competitiveness of their current organisation or by supporting unemployed workers into new employment. Having access to such skills will help organisations and businesses across Northern Ireland embrace new technologies and flourish.”

Kathryn Harkin Senior Manager AI Centre of Excellence at Allstate Northern Ireland commented:

“Allstate NI is committed to helping promote IT within Northern Ireland. The rapid upskilling and reskilling of local graduates in Data Science, Data Analytics and advanced AI skills will strengthen our Cognitive Analytics ecosystem and capabilities and keep us at the forefront of a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

“Developing these skills will have a wider benefit for the local economy for large organisations, indigenous SMEs and government departments. The demand for these specialist skills is only likely to increase in a post COVID-19 world.”

Claire McNally, Head of Capability and Development at PwC Operate and Industry Curriculum Consultant commented:

“As our economy re-aligns it is more critical now than ever that industry and academic providers come together to build the key skills we need to create a sustainable workforce of the future. These courses offered by Ulster University will help prepare employees with the critical skills organisations require to progress, particularly in the tech and professional services sectors.”

For more information on the courses and how to apply, please visit: