street view image of Belfast city hall

Talent and education

Northern Ireland is home to a highly educated, innovative and results-driven workforce

Northern Ireland has a steady stream of enthusiastic, talented people for international companies seeking a strong workforce. The region’s universities and further education colleges work closely with businesses to ensure a pipeline of talent with relevant skills and qualifications.

Assured Skills Academies

Companies looking to expand across borders won’t find anything in Europe quite like Northern Ireland’s Assured Skills Programme. This is a fully funded, pre-employment training programme that guarantees incoming companies can secure the right talent with the right skill sets.

With direct input from participating companies and in collaboration with Northern Ireland’s colleges, newly arriving operations can hit the ground running. The Academy Model is flexible and has been used to help companies recruit new staff in areas such as software development, data analytics, cyber security, applied intelligence, legal services and financial services.

Key facts

  • The best performing education system for primary maths in Europe, and the sixth best in the world

  • Students consistently outperform those in other UK regions at GCSE and A-Level (high school leaving)

  • 78% of school leavers go onto further and higher education

  • Almost 51,000 students enrolled at further education colleges

  • Over 69,000 students enrolled on under and postgraduate courses at higher education institutions

  • 82% of undergraduates achieved a first class or upper second class degree in 2022

  • Over 85% of Northern Ireland university research is world-leading or internationally excellent

  • Around 17,000 international students from almost 100 countries studying at university

  • Over 42% of Northern Ireland’s workforce has a degree level qualification

Further and Higher Education

Queen's University Belfast

Lanyon Building at Queen's University in Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast is over 175 years old; it is a member of the Russell Group of 24 leading UK research-intensive universities and ranked in the top 140 in the world for graduate prospects.

Queen's University is the number one university in the UK for commercialising research and is joint first in the UK for research intensity.

Queen's University Belfast

Ulster University

Image of Magee campus at Ulster University

Ulster University is Northern Ireland’s largest university, with over 27,000 students. The university has three campuses in Northern Ireland – in Coleraine, Derry~Londonderry and Belfast and its new Belfast campus is one of the largest higher education capital builds in Europe. The university also has a Sports Village in Jordanstown, just outside Belfast.

The university has 19 active spin-out companies, with a collective turnover in excess of £50 million, employing over 700 staff.

Ulster University

Further education colleges

Students around a computer screen

Northern Ireland is home to six further education colleges with around 29 campuses spread across the region. These colleges develop a comprehensive portfolio of academic and vocational courses that include A-Levels, foundation degrees, apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships.

Further Education NI

Please get in touch.  You can find a team in your region or fill in an enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.

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