How does LifeSkills support careers education in Northern Ireland?

Help your students get ready for the world of work by discovering how LifeSkills aligns with the Learning for Life and Work Area of Learning in the Northern Ireland curriculum.

LifeSkills can support your careers provision, your work with AEN learners and your development of a whole school/college approach to building skills.

Explore the tabs below to see how our resources can be embedded into your employability work, supporting you to help young people develop the right skills and knowledge for the workplace.

What is the national approach to careers education and skills development in Northern Ireland?

Learning for Life and Work (LLW) is a compulsory Area of Learning in the post-primary curriculum[1]. It includes:

  • Employability
  • Personal Development
  • Local and Global Citizenship
  • Home Economics

LLW was introduced to put greater emphasis on getting young people ready for work, becoming active citizens and developing consumer skills for independent living, in line with the Northern Ireland Department for Education’s Preparing for Success strategy for careers education[2].

As part of the earlier version of this strategy, the Department published Preparing for Success: a guide to developing effective career decision makers[3], which outlines expected learning intentions and potential learning opportunities for young people ages 4-19.

How does LifeSkills align with recent developments in education?

It’s increasingly recognised that young people need a portfolio of skills based on ideas, creativity and enterprise that they can market to different organisations or use to create self-employment. With its emphasis on core transferable skills, LifeSkills can help young people develop across the curriculum[4]:

  • Areas of Learning – Language and Literacy, Mathematics and Numeracy, Environment and Society, Learning for Life and Work
  • Whole Curriculum Skills and Capabilities – Communication, Using ICT, Using Mathematics, Planning for Skills Development, Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

LifeSkills also aligns with careers education research and policy, including:

  • The 2019 Northern Ireland Skills Barometer[5], which recommends that educators should simulate the work environment through use of solving applied problems that frequently occur in the workplace, so that young people can develop competencies and behaviours demanded by employers.
  • The 2015 update to the Preparing for Success strategy2 which included a focus on labour market information, work experience and accessing impartial advice
  • The 2016 Further Education Means Success[6] policy commitment to developing employability and enterprise skills

How does LifeSkills help students develop core transferable skills?

LifeSkills provides a wide range of lessons, tools, content and resources that help students build the core transferable skills they need to succeed in the world of work:  

These skills align with the focus areas your students need to develop as part of the Whole Curriculum Skills and Capabilities for lifelong learning and contributing effectively to society[7]:

Cross-curricular skills

  • Communication
  • Using Mathematics
  • Using ICT

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities:

  • Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
  • Working with Others
  • Self-management

LifeSkills also supports young people prepare for work by raising their awareness of the skills they are learning in education and how they can be useful in a work context. This in turn helps them to articulate and promote their skills when applying for jobs across different sectors.

With the changing world of work and the impact of recent events on the labour market, it’s important for students to understand the skills employers are now looking for and how these have changed – to find out more take a look at our Jobs of the future guide. You can also learn more about employment trends from the bank of research we have collated from organisations across the sector here.









What key education frameworks and qualifications can LifeSkills support?  

We have mapped LifeSkills content to the national curriculum in Northern Ireland to enable educators to use the resources across subject areas. Look at our Content curriculum guide to find lesson materials and independent learning resources for students that support your curriculum delivery.

LifeSkills lessons can also support your school or college to deliver Open College Network NI (OCN NI) or Council for Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) Level 1 or 2 qualifications in Employability Skills.

How can LifeSkills support my school/college’s careers provision?

If you lead and coordinate delivery of careers and employability across your organisation, this presentation and delivery notes are packed with useful insights and tips so you can deliver to colleagues in your school, to help them embed employability into their subjects and departments.

Furthermore, given the range of choices open to young people from key stage 4, with the flexibility that the Entitlement Framework[1] offers, access to high quality careers education, information, advice and guidance is more important than ever. LifeSkills content can help your school to meet the curriculum requirements that young people should be enabled to:

Students preparing to leave school can access free careers guidance sessions with professionally qualified Careers Advisers from the Northern Ireland Careers Service. LifeSkills interactive tools such as the Wheel of Strengths and Advice Map can be very useful in helping to generate conversations during these sessions.


How does LifeSkills support students with diverse needs?

LifeSkills offers adapted resources for students with Additional Educational Needs (AEN) and those in care who are preparing for their post-school transition.

This includes a core set of lessons adapted for young people aged 14+ with AEN and a navigation guide to explain how the content has been adapted.

We’ve also created a suite of financial education resources for young people leaving care to help them prepare for independent living. You can find these by selecting the ‘care leavers’ filter option on the LifeSkills Lesson plans page.

LifeSkills offers content specially designed for supporting adult learners, including those at risk of becoming unemployed. You may also find some of the resources for young people are useful in working with adults – check out this guide to supporting adult learners.

How can you use LifeSkills to build inclusivity in the classroom?

Teaching diversity and inclusion is important as it helps students recognise and celebrate what makes us different to benefit themselves and their future workplaces. LifeSkills has developed a suite of diversity resources to support students to develop their understanding of diversity and inclusion, including how this will help them succeed in the world of work.

Watch our online lesson film around racial equality in the workplace or listen to five short audio case studies exploring different topics around gender, LGBTQ+, culture, age and disability.

What do educators from Northern Ireland say they value about LifeSkills?

“With older students we use LifeSkills in a range of ways – interview skills, CV building, learning more about social media for employability and building confidence. The programme has also been valuable for preparing our students for work experience placements. All the skills developed are what they say on the tin – life skills. We as a school have benefited greatly from LifeSkills – both students and teachers.”

Key Stage 5 Facilitator, secondary school, Northern Ireland

“The website has a mountain of information in it, resources and videos etc. When I go in I think gosh, that’s good – and then I click and find something else. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the resources but they are fantastic.”

Head of Careers, Secondary School, Northern Ireland

How can LifeSkills be delivered and used alongside other careers resources?

LifeSkills can complement the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) WOW Factor content[1]. This is a series of units delivered over a six-week period that offer teaching and learning opportunities around making future world of work decisions for Years 8-12. It includes activities on employability skills and being enterprising.

CCEA also provide Thematic Units, including Education for Employability, for students with moderate learning difficulties. LifeSkills content can work alongside the Education for Employability content at key stages 3 and 4[2].

Educators can use the content in lessons, form periods, assemblies and careers days. You can also direct young people to use LifeSkills independently for homework tasks, holiday projects or as part of transition preparation.

LifeSkills also has materials to support parents and carers to help their children develop employability skills, knowledge and aspirations, via the Families hub.

Where can I find out more?

  • Go to the Explore more section on our website to discover how to start building LifeSkills content into your careers programme
  • Use our Content curriculum guide to see how you can use LifeSkills resources as part of your lessons across the curriculum
  • Start building your students core transferable skills with our seven core skills lessons
  • Learn how to get recognition for your school or college’s skills programme with the LifeSkills Award



To find out more about how LifeSkills supports the curriculum across other parts of the UK select another nation: