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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today announced the establishment of an Advisory and Oversight Group to help prepare for the safe resumption of onsite delivery of vocational learning.

The expert group, which will advise further education colleges and non-statutory contractors, will consider new delivery models for vocational education to overcome the challenges posed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister said: “The scale of the changes introduced across the further education and non-statutory contractor sectors since the cessation of onsite delivery in March due to Covid-19 is without precedent.

“I congratulate the sectors in how they have adapted their provision, where possible, to continue to deliver a wide and varied programme of virtual learning and support to learners at this time.

“Looking ahead, it is important that the colleges and training organisations examine carefully how they can deliver for learners in a way that is safe for students and staff.

“The Advisory and Oversight Group that I have established will work collaboratively with the sectors to take forward preparations for the safe resumption of onsite educational provision at all campuses and training centres.”

The group will include representatives from the Department for the Economy, and the further education and non-statutory contractor sectors, and will carry out consultation with stakeholders with a view to formulating plans for the safe resumption of onsite learning. The group will hold its first meeting on Tuesday 9 June.

The Minister concluded: “Protecting staff and student health and well-being will remain a priority throughout the planning process and into the future as we look to bring learners back onto campuses and into private training premises.”