The combined impact of the pandemic, the UK’s departure from the EU, rising costs and continuing labour and skill shortages, presents an unprecedented challenge for government, employers and all of us individually. In the lead-up to the 2022 NI Assembly election, political parties must present credible ways to address these issues while laying out a longer-term vision for Northern Ireland focused on recovery. 

Better work and working lives for Northern Ireland, the CIPD’s Northern Ireland manifesto, aims to support policy-makers in this task.

This manifesto is based on a series of roundtables with senior members from a range of sectors, industries and organisational sizes, as well as several online surveys distributed to members of our Policy Forum. It was our members who have spent the last two years supporting organisations and their people in navigating the sudden and dramatic change to working patterns, regulations and support schemes.

Our manifesto sets out the CIPD’s recommendations for improving job quality in a changing world, for flexible and responsive skills development, and for establishing a modern and inclusive labour market. Our top five recommendations are to:

  • embed job quality across all Northern Irish Executive policy
  • change the right to request flexible working to a day one right
  • rebalance public funding towards demand-led vocational routes like apprenticeships
  • boost lifelong learning, for example, by introducing enhanced Individual Learning Accounts
  • introduce a new Northern Ireland Employment Bill.

The last two years have been incredibly challenging. But with all challenges come opportunities for change. Our manifesto lays out where we think these opportunities should be seized.

Read our manifesto:

CIPD recommendations for 2022

Job quality

1. Embed job quality across all Northern Irish Executive policy.

2. Provide any additional support to NISRA in the development of work quality indicators.

3. Introduce a well-designed and supported Better Jobs Pledge.

4. Conduct a large-scale job quality campaign.

Flexible work

5. Change the right to request flexible working to a day one right.

6. Introduce a Flexible Work Challenge Fund.

Management skills

7. Support the development of management skills, including through a People Skills small business support scheme.

8. Rebalance public funding towards demand-led vocational routes like apprenticeships.

Work-based learning

9. Make targeted apprenticeship recruitment incentives permanent.

10. Introduce a ring-fenced training fund for Apprenticeship Levy payers.

Developing school links

11. Formalise a framework for business–school co-operation.

12. Improve the provision of careers guidance.

Lifelong learning

13. Provide a targeted skills subsidy to cover lost income while training.

14. Introduce enhanced Individual Learning Accounts.

15. Put the SKILL UP programme on a permanent footing.

16. Co-create a new framework for employability skills.

Inclusive labour market

17. Introduce a new Northern Ireland Employment Bill.

18. Enact gender, ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting legislation.

19. Expand paid bereavement leave provisions.

20. Introduce paid carer’s leave.

21: Change Carer’s Allowance eligibility rules to support skills development.

22: Boost the provision of publicly funded childcare.

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