Belfast Metropolitan College in Northern Ireland has a long history of innovative programmes designed with employers. Here, Glen McMahon describes the successful Assured Academy scheme, with an example of working with Deloitte, the major financial and commercial consultancy.

The Assured Skills programme is a joint initiative between the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy (DfE) and Invest Northern Ireland. Since it began in 2010, it has promoted a total of 5,371 jobs. Once all jobs have been taken up, it will create an additional £141m into the Northern Ireland economy. 

The programme seeks to assure potential investors and existing employers considering expansion, that the skills they need to support a growing business can be found in Northern Ireland. 

Under the Assured Skills “Academy Model”, where a company or a consortium of companies has an identified skills need, DfE will consider funding the development of a personalised short-term training programme, by the Centre for Economic Development and Social Inclusion (CEDSI) Team, to meet that need. This usually involves an eight to ten-week bespoke pre-employment training programme designed and delivered by CEDSI. The content is designed to lower the recruitment risk for companies by providing candidates trained with the exact skills for the opportunities that are available, whilst enriching the curriculum to meet industry needs.


  • worked with over 30 companies
  • placed over 800 students in employment
  • shown that students from the scheme have an average salary of £21,000. 


  • Data analytics
  • 2D Animation
  • Software Development, Engineering and Testing
  • Games Development
  • Fintech
  • Human Capital
  • Cyber Security
  • Cloud Technologies.

Deloitte and Belfast Met

An example of the kind of programme under development is the scheme with Deloitte, the major financial and commercial consultancy. Twenty graduates are set for a career in the emerging areas of robotics process automation and data visualisation with the company.

Following successful completion of the college’s first ever Robotic Automation and Data Visualisation Academy pre-employment training programme, graduates were interviewed by Deloitte and have joined the company.

Delivered at the college and funded by the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy (DFE), Deloitte’s 11-week Robotics Assured Skills Academy course was designed to offer graduates with a degree in any discipline the opportunity to pursue a career in these innovative and cutting-edge fields. It helps equip graduates with the skills needed to improve their employability while at the same time increasing the potential productivity and growth of companies. 

Colin Mounstephen, Senior Manager at Deloitte said: “The Key to Deloitte’s ambitious growth plans in Northern Ireland is bringing people into our business who are at the forefront of new technology. In particular we have identified significant opportunities that need robotics and data visualisation skills and we have designed a bespoke academy around these areas. It is an exciting time to be building teams with these skills and we look forward to the individuals joining and building great careers with us."

Deloitte is partnering with the Department for the Economy on further Academies in Transformation, Finance and Technology as well as Cloud Computing for graduates to gain key skills in this sector. Following the successful completion of this pre-employment skills training course candidates are offered a job interview by Deloitte. 

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