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Ulster chooses to go 32 different ways

NORTHERN IRELAND

NORTHERN IRELAND has resisted going down the same road as the rest of the UK. Instead of breaking its careers service into separate companies, it has retained central control.

The province's Training and Employment Agency has 32 offices within job centres. They are mainly used by young people seeking work after leaving full-time education.

The agency is responsible for guidance in schools and works closely with careers teachers. Yet one of its main targets is an all-age guidance service.

John McKeown, the agency's senior careers adviser, recognises the need to extend guidance beyond young people - especially as Northern Ireland is running the largest New Deal pilot for over-25s within the UK.

"There will be clients across all ages who need guidance in order that they can access our programmes."

The agency plans to work closely with the Educational Guidance Service for Adults, a non-statutory agency paid for by the Department for Education in Northern Ireland.

The service, which targets non-traditional learners, employs four guidance workers in Belfast and plans to take on five more staff so that it can meet the demand for lifelong learning in other parts of the province.

Much of its work involves improving basic skills, as well as pointing adults towards vocational opportunities.

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