Research reports

The Department for Employment and Learning commissions research on higher and further education and on issues connected with the labour market.

Copies of research summaries and full reports can be downloaded in pdf format by selecting the appropriate link below each publication.

A Review of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) and its Implications for Northern Ireland

The Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) was launched in 1999 and is the largest educational research programme ever to be undertaken in the UK. It was established as an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) programme, comprising a network of projects, and was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the Scottish Government, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The TLRP mission was: ‘to promote high quality research on education, focused on improving outcomes for all types of student and designed to be relevant to the practice of teaching and learning’

Northern Ireland domiciled Higher Education applicants: An analysis of UCAS data-2008/2009 academic year

This research report utilises data provided by Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to analyse the characteristics and choices of NI domiciled applicants who applied through UCAS for a full-time undergraduate Higher Education (HE) course at a UK institution in the 2008/09 acaemic year. It examines both applicants accepted for a HE place, and those applicants who applied through UCAS for a place but were not accepted.

Tertiary Education Analytical Services - Department for Employment and Learning

December 2010

Futuretrack - Northern Ireland's students: key findings from the Futuretrack Stage 1 survey

In 2005 the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU), launched a major programme of research, named Futuretrack, designed to explore the process of entry into and through HE. Futuretrack will follow the progress of students, who applied through UCAS for full-time courses at UK colleges and universities in 2006, over a 5 year period. This report focuses on NI findings from the first stage of the survey. A UK wide report was published in March 2008.

The Influence of Graduate Qualifications on Average Wages and Productitivity Across the UK

NI has largely solved its traditional economic problem of high unemployment. The remaining economic problems concern productivity and wages which remain stuck at a level 15-20% below the UK average, and increasingly also well behind the Republic of Ireland. The task of raising wages and productivity is complex and to date there is no consensus on how this should be achieved. In this research project the focus is on skills, and in particular on graduates and an investigation of the association between graduates and both wages and productivity across the regions and local areas of the UK. The report was published February 2009.

What can Literacy scores tell us about NI's productivity gap?

This study accesses the role of labour market skills in explaining the productivity gap in Northern Ireland. A recent study in Canada has highlighted a strong correlation between improved literacy scores of the workforce and higher levels of GVA. The current research investigates if similar conclusions could be attributed to the NI economy. An initial review evaluates the relevant literature regarding productivity and literacy scores in a UK context.   The report was published February 2009.

Analysis of UK graduate earnings

This research combines the individual level student record and destinations data for the whole population of 2004 leavers from UK universities to investigate the determinants of graduate occupational earnings. It has been estimated in previous work that, ceteris paribus, there is a premium for a first degree of approximately 17% for men and 37% for women. This research examines the determinants of variations around these averages. Thus, the results yield estimates of the ‘additional premium’ associated with particular subjects and with specific classes of degree award. The paper also applies econometric techniques to examine the extent of graduate inequality and deprivation in the UK. The report was published December 2008.

Graduate Earnings: An econometric analysis of returns, inequality and deprivation across the UK

Experiences and outcomes of participants on New Deal: New Deal Survey

The Department commissioned consultants KPMG, in association with Ipsos-MORI, to undertake a survey of customers who had recently participated in the New Deal for 18 to 24 year olds and New Deal 25+ programmes in Northern Ireland. The purpose of the study was to provide information on the current status of former participants, to detail their post New Deal history, to detail their experiences of and attitudes to New Deal, to examine the extent to which the New Deal had met their expectations, and to provide information on participants’ perception of the quality and appropriateness of the provision delivered during the Options. The report was published in September 2008.

Management and leadership practices within NI companies

McKinsey & Co, along with Stanford University and the London School of Economics, has carried out an assessment of management practices and their affect on productivity for a number of national economies over the past seven years. For the first time, Management Matters assesses the level of managerial skills in manufacturing firms in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

All - Island Skills Study

Recognising that a skilled workforce will be a key resource for a more prosperous all - island economy, both Governments, North and South, agreed to work together to ensure that the required skills are in place to encourage sustained growth. As a first step, the two skills expert groups established North and South, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the Northern Ireland Skills Expert Group, have worked together to produce this first All-Island Skills Study. It provides, for the first time, a comprehensive all-island analysis of skills demand.

All-Island Skills Study - Full Report and Summary Report

Towards a Harmonised Skills Monitoring Survey

Each of the four UK countries has undertaken a number of relatively large-scale employers' skills surveys. In 2004 Economic Research and Evaluation completed a comparative analysis of the findings from a selection of surveys in each of these countries and the Republic of Ireland. Following a workshop with representatives from each of the countries, recommendations for a harmonised set of questions were reported. Feedback from workshop participants was examined and where appropriate revisions suggested to the draft questionnaire.

Skills Monitoring

The NI Skills Monitoring Survey was designed to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the current skills needs of NI employers. The 2000 Survey focused on private sector employers providing a range of skills-related measures. The Survey was repeated in 2002, but extended to include a section on training as well as coverage of the public sector. The Survey conducted in 2005 largely replicates the 2002 Survey, providing some useful comparisons over time.

Forecasting Future Skill Needs in Northern Ireland

In order to gain a better understanding of the current and future economy, and the likely macro level demand for skills, DEL in association with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Department of Finance and Personnel, commissioned Oxford Economics to produce a piece of research entitled ‘Forecasting Future Skills Needs in Northern Ireland’.  The report outlines the skills that the NI workforce will need under a range of economic scenarios, up until 2020.

NI Executive Skills Recruitment Watch Survey

This research examines changes in recruitment demand for executive jobs in Northern Ireland. The report presents data for 2005 for the public and private sectors along with comparisons for 2002, 2003 and 2004. The report also includes comparisons with other data sources of vacancies. Report

Incapacity Benefit Claimants:Geography, Households, Decision Making and Welfare Refrorm

This research reports on the characteristics, expectations, views and opinions of a sample of Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants in Northern Ireland

  • Incapacity Benefit Claimants:Geography, Households, Decision Making and Welfare Refrorm

Skills at Work in Northern Ireland 2006

The report presents findings of a survey of jobs, where the main features of the jobs are reported by the employees themselves. This “job requirements approach” is an innovative method of measuring skills being used in the Northern lreland economy. The report examines the distribution of job skills among those in work and compares job skills in Northern Ireland with those elsewhere in the UK

After School: Attitudes & perceptions of Northern Ireland school leavers towards higher & further education, training & employment

This research report assesses school pupils' attitudes and intentions towards further and higher education, training and employment. A particular focus of the research included an examination of the factors which are important to pupils when they make up their minds about applying to Higher Education (HE). The report indicates that student choices are most heavily influenced by their desire to go to the best place for their chosen course, rather than a strong desire to leave Northern Ireland. The report also examines how the availability of financial support influences pupils’ decisions about entering HE and also examines the key factors that influence pupils’ choices about HE including the role of peers, parents and careers guidance.

New Deal Leavers Report

The Department for Employment and Learning  commissioned consultants KPMG, in association with Ipsos-MORI,   to undertake a survey of customers who had recently participated in the New Deal for 18 to 24 year olds and New Deal 25+ programmes in Northern Ireland. The purpose of the study was to provide information on the current status of former participants, to detail their post New Deal history, to detail their experiences of and attitudes to New Deal, to examine the extent to which the New Deal had met their expectations, and to provide information on participants’ perception of the quality and appropriateness of the provision delivered during the Options.

New Deal Leavers Report

September 2008

Examination and identification of Priority Skills areas in Northern Ireland

The Department commissioned the Priority Skills Unit (PSU) at the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland (ERINI) to produce two reports to inform the work of the Northern Ireland Skills Expert Group (NI SEG). The first report examined international best practice in identifying priority skills and, within that context, developed a model which would be well suited to the Northern Ireland context. The second report applied NI data to that model.

Priority Skills Unit, ERINI

March 2008

An Assessment of International Trends in Occupational Forecasting and Skills Research: How does Northern Ireland Compare? (Phase 1)

Towards a Skills Assessment Framework for Northern Ireland: A Sectoral Performance Approach (Phase 2)

Scoping study on Homophobia in the Northern Ireland Further Education Sector

In line with its commitment to widen access to Further Education within Northern Ireland, DEL is keen to develop an understanding of attitudes towards sexuality throughout the sector.  The Department has commissioned external consultants to undertake a scoping exercise to determine the extent of homophobia within the Further Education Sector in Northern Ireland and to provide an indication of the level of future research which may be required on the issue.

KPMG

September 2007

Scoping study on Homophobia in the Northern Ireland Further Education Sector

Study of Racism in the Further Education Sector: Attitudes and Behaviours

As part of the Department for Employment and Learning's (DEL) Research Agenda, research was commissioned to investigate race and ethnicity attitudes and behaviours within the Further Education (FE) sector in Northern Ireland (NI) and to generate practical suggestions as to how to address emerging issues at both a local and regional level. It is also hoped that the research would bring forward positive recommendations to help address any chill factors facing potential or current students from ethnic minority groups.

Peer Consulting

July 2007

Study of Racism in the Further Education Sector: Attitudes and Behaviours

Understanding why people return to the New Deals in Northern Ireland

The aim of the research was to provide a better understanding of the reasons why some people return to New Deal and also to give a deeper insight into the characteristics and labour market experiences of these people

Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion and Locus Management

June 2007

Understanding why people return to the New Deals in Northern Ireland

An examination of Higher Education research and development and knowledge transfer in Northern Ireland

This report, produced as part of DEL's Research Agenda draws together information on the role of Higher Education R&D (HERD) and knowledge transfer activity in Northern Ireland.

InnovationLab (Ireland) LTD

April 2007

An examination of Higher Education research and development and knowledge transfer in Northern Ireland

Best Practice in Inter-Agency Co-Operation on Employability

The aim of the research (produced as part of DEL's Research Agenda) was to compare forms of inter-agency co-operation and identify strengths and weaknesses in different partnership models. It involved researching best practice in 15 countries.

Employment Research Institute, Napier University

March 2007

Best Practice in Inter-Agency Co-Operation on Employability

Flexible Working Patterns: Comparison of employee and employer survey conducted in 2003 and 2006

This report compares the results of surveys carried out amongst employees and employers during 2003 and 2006. The surveys investigated the attitudes of both groups towards flexible working issues and asks about how relevant policies were implemented in the workplace.

NISRA Omnibus Survey, Central Survey Unit and Analytical Services, DEL

March 2007

Flexible Working Patterns: Comparison of employee and employer survey conducted in 2003 and 2006

Attitudes to Migrant Workers: Results from the Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey

Since the accession of the A8 countries to the EU in 2004 there has been a dramatic increase in the level of migrant workers arriving in Northern Ireland. While there is general acceptance that migrant workers have made a positive contribution to the economy and society, there are indications that public profile of migrant workers was an issue, for example as indicated by the incidence of racially-motivated attacks, some of which involved migrant workers. This report presents the findings from a series of DEL sponsored questions in the Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey (January 2007) on public attitudes to migrant workers. Responses to the questions are presented in the report broken down by age group; gender; religion; socio-economic group; employment status; economic activity; highest educational qualification; urban/rural split; and by area (Belfast; East of Northern Ireland; and West of Northern Ireland).

Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey

January 2007

Attitudes to Migrant Workers: Results from the Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey - January 2007

Education, Occupational Class, and Unemployment in the Regions of the United Kingdom

This paper examines a measure of returns to education based on the probability of “labour market success” associated with different levels of qualification. Two measures of “success” are used based on data from the 2001 UK Census for the different regions of the UK: first, the likelihood of persons in employment being in “good” jobs; second, the likelihood of persons in the labour force being in employment. The results show that, in every region of the UK, better qualifications are significantly and strongly associated with higher probabilities of labour market success.

Professor Vani.K.Borooah

January 2007

Education, Occupational Class, and Unemployment in the Regions of the United Kingdom

Staying the Course: An Econometric Analysis of the Characteristics most Associated with Student Attrition Beyond the First Year of Higher Education

Non-completion of courses by students has implications for themselves, the institutions that they attend, and for the economy and society in general. Through the analysis of non-completion of first year HE courses at the University of Ulster, this paper reports the results of an econometric modelling exercise that shows that non-completion is associated with factors including gender, religion, socio-economic class, and the nature of the course undertaken.

Professor Vani. K Borooah and Dr. Mark Bailey

January 2007

Staying the Course: An Econometric Analysis of the Characteristics most Associated with Student Attrition Beyond the First Year of Higher Education

Appraisal of Essential Skills for Living

This report describes the outcomes of research into the delivery of Essential Skills training.  This qualitative appraisal uses a variety to techniques to gather and analyse data.  The findings highlight possible future actions for continued service delivery.

Frontline Consultants

October 2006

Appraisal of Essential Skills for Living

Employment Relations Survey 2004-2005: Comparison of employee and employer responses to research into workplace attitudes and practices

Research was carried out amongst employees in June 2004 and amongst employers between January and March 2005 to measure attitudes and practices relating to a number of important employment issues. These issues included resolving disputes at work, sources of employment relations advice, recruitment, working from home and trade union membership. The report analyses and compares the major findings from each strand of the research.

NISRA Omnibus Survey, Central Survey Unit and Analytical Services, DEL

September 2006

Employment Relations Survey 2004-2005 (Employee and Employer Components): Analytical Report

Northern Ireland Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2004/05

This survey is based on Northern Ireland domiciled higher education students at Northern Ireland institutions.  It used a representative sample of both full-time and part-time students on designated undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the academic year 2004/05 to collect detailed data on students' financial position and how this differs depending on students' background and circumstances.

Institute for Employment Studies and National Centre for Social Research (IES/NatCen)

September 2006

Northern Ireland Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2004/05

Occupation Forecasts and Replacement Demand Analysis for Northern Ireland 2005-2015

This report examines occupation and replacement demand forecasts for the Northern Ireland economy.  It provides annual employment projections for 24 separate occupation groups for each year until 2015.  The forecasts provide a measure of the scale of likely job vacancies in each occupation caused by labour turnover as well as by the expansion or contraction of demand.

Regional Forecasts Limited

June 2006

Occupation Forecasts and Replacement Demand 2005-2015

Flexible Working Employees and Employers Survey

This report analyses attitudes and practices identified by separate surveys into flexible working carried out amongst employees and employers during 2003. It focuses particularly on the employee aspect, and compares findings in this area against those obtained from research amongst employers.

NISRA Omnibus Survey, Central Survey Unit and Analytical Services, DEL

December 2005

Report on 2003 Flexible Working Surveys (Adobe Acrobat Document, 236566 bytes)

Northern Ireland's graduates: the classes of '95 and '99

This research examines the labour market experiences of two cohorts of NI graduates, one graduating in 1995 and one in 1999. The report provides details of their career paths, geographical mobility, earnings and debt.

Kate Purcell, Peter Elias, Rhys Davies & Nick Wilton

October 2005

NI graduates: the classes of '95 and '99 external link

An analysis of higher education students who study in Northern Ireland compared to those who leave for GB - 2002/03 academic year

This research report looks at how NI domiciled students who study higher education in GB differ from those who study in NI. The report uses data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to provide a descriptive analysis of the different characteristics of students studying in NI and GB and also considers whether students accepted a HE place in their preferred location of study.
Tertiary Education Analytical Services - Department for Employment and Learning

November 2004

The Department for Employment and Learning research agenda

The Department’s research agenda sets out a number of research aims and areas which it would wish to pursue over the forth coming years. The purpose of this is to further coordinate the approach within the Department towards commissioning research as well as facilitating an additional and comprehensive evidence base for policy development. The document also includes at Annex 1 a brief summary of some of the recent NI focused research that is currently available.

The regional mission of higher education in Northern Ireland

A research report which-provides a largely qualitative assessment of the HE sector's impact on regional competitiveness in Northern Ireland. The author has produced similar reports for each of the English regions and details of these can be found on the Universities UK external link website.

David Charles, Stuart Dawley, Paul Benneworth & Cheryl Conway - January 2003

Education and earnings in Northern Ireland

A Research Project which provides an analysis of how additional education can result in extra earnings.

Professor Ian Walker & Dr Colm Harmon - March 2000

The progression of students achieving General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQ) Intermediate level in 1997

This report presents the final outcomes from the three yearly project stages of monitoring the progression and destinations of the 364 graduates of the GNVQ Intermediate in 1997 who responded to the questionnaire sent via participating schools and colleges in Northern Ireland.

DTZ Pieda Consulting in association with Trewen Associates - September 2001

A co-ordinated approach to the promotion and delivery of the General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQ) in hospitality and catering

This research was commissioned in 1997 to investigate the feasibility of delivering the GNVQ in Hospitality and Catering through partnership arrangements between schools and Further Education colleges.

Frances Bickerstaff & Ian Bickerstaff - September 2001

Addressing the needs of adult learners in the context of incorporation of institutes of further and higher education

The purpose of this research was to investigate how Institute managers can address communities in order to make long term provision which will meet the needs of adult learners.

Dr Katrina Collins, Professor Gerry McAleavy, Dr Gary Adamson, Mr John Reid and Mr John Gray - September 2001

Participation by and provision for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (SLDD) in the further education sector in Northern Ireland

This study sought to quantify the current levels of provision in the 17 further education colleges in Northern Ireland and to identify the extent of need.

Peter Rafferty, DTZ Pieda Consulting & Trevor Rowan, Trewen Associates - April 2000

In addition to reports commissioned by the Department for Employment and Learning, the following research report relating to Further and Higher Education may be of interest:

Participation rates in further and higher education

This study investigates cross community participation and geodemographic disparities in the take up of further and higher education within the Belfast Education and Library Board area.

KCollins, G McAleavy, G Adamson, HA Donegan
November 2001

Adult literacy in Northern Ireland

A survey of adults aged 16-65 in Northern Ireland carried out by the Central Survey Unit of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency as part of the International Adult Literacy Survey.

1998

  1. Adult Literacy in Northern Ireland - Summary
  2. Adult Literacy in Northern Ireland - Full Report