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Northern Ireland

General information

The public sector structures in Northern Ireland are slightly different to those in Wales, England and Scotland. Whilst environmental health is a service delivered by councils in Northern Ireland, many of the related functions around social services are not – they are delivered by health and social care trusts.

The Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) is the representative voice of Local Government in Northern Ireland. This informative website will help you find out more about local government and how NILGA and the 26 Councils of Northern Ireland work together on matters of policy, legislation roles and functions. 

Finding the principal local councils throughout the UK


Education and training

Education and training opportunities for public health staff in councils in Northern Ireland

The education and training opportunities for public health employees in Northern Ireland councils are significant and varied. There are a variety of routes and sources, the primary ones being:

  • Councils’ post-entry learning and development schemes. Each council has a learning and development scheme through which employees can access learning and development opportunities to support them in maintaining their knowledge and expertise and supporting their future career development. Information regarding your own council’s arrangements are available from either your line manager or from your council’s Human Resources Department.
  • The Local Government Training Group seeks to identify shared learning and development needs across the local government sector and provides a range of learning and development programmes to support this. Further information on the programmes provided is available from your line manager, your Human Resources Department or from the Training Group
  • The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health delivers a comprehensive programme of conferences, seminars and workshops supporting the continuing professional development of both environmental health staff and others. Further details are available from the CIEH Northern Ireland Directorate (Philip House, 123 York Street Belfast BT15 1AB, tel. )
  • The University of Ulster, in addition to providing the core BSc (Hons) degree in Environmental Health, also provides a range of postgraduate opportunities up to MSc level with their MSc Environmental Health Management and Practice through the university’s School of the Built Environment (contact Marie Vaganay, Course Director, , ).
  • Associations such as APSE, Federal Institute and Chief Executives Forum provide development activities for Environmental Health Officers.

The arrangements for personal development for public health staff in local councils in Northern Ireland
Each council has its own internal arrangements for employee development in terms of identifying development needs and meeting those needs. In many cases the underpinning mechanism will be the council’s performance appraisal process whilst in others it will be another systematic process for identifying needs.

Common needs across local government are identified through the Local Government Training Group which includes within its membership a training professional from each council.

Most Council’s require environmental health officers to maintain membership of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Maintaining and developing this membership necessitates the fulfilment of a mandatory annual programme of Continuing Professional Development requirement.

Professional development is also provided through issue-based training courses organised by a variety of providers including CIEH, and the Chief Environmental Health Officers Group.

What contacts do local councils in Northern Ireland have with educational bodies?
Councils in Northern Ireland have long-established contacts with schools, colleges and universities, in particular the University of Ulster, which is the core provider of undergraduate and postgraduate education in public health.

EHOs are also encouraged to develop their skills by lecturing on relevant courses at further education colleges.

Do local councils in Northern Ireland fund education and training from their own monies?
Each council in Northern Ireland has a learning and development support scheme open to all employees. Commonly within that there will be significant financial support in terms of meeting course fees, necessary text books, examination fees and other related costs.

The LGTG on occasions accesses some additional funding streams.

How do I get access to secondment or personal development opportunities?
Specific opportunities for secondment are widely publicised within councils. Councils participate in the Northern Ireland Interchange programme which was established to promote and co-ordinate interchange activity among a number of organisations in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors in Northern Ireland. The Interchange Unit is based in the Central Personnel Group within the Northern Ireland Civil Service (see

Specific secondment opportunities are often made available through the Environmental Health Group offices.

How do I access Continuing Professional Development (CPD) monies?
As mentioned earlier, each council has a scheme supporting employee learning and development. Information relating to each council’s scheme is available from line managers or from the council’s Human Resources Department. In most councils the scheme will outline the types of learning and development activity that may be supported, how to apply for assistance and support and often the criteria for consideration of applications.

What about leadership courses etc. and the wide range of ways to develop?
Northern Ireland does not have specific leadership programmes for public health as is the case in England and Wales. Leadership courses and programmes that are available are more generic and formal in nature. These are regularly supported (within wider priorities) and would include support, for example, for undertaking an MBA.

How do I find out who to contact in my Local Authority about my professional development?
In the first instance you should speak to your line manager who will be able to discuss options and the support available. In many councils this will be a routine discussion through the performance appraisal processes. If you require any further information you should contact your council’s Human Resources Department.

How are you linking with third sector (voluntary) public health organizations, and do you support any training for the third sector? If so, how can information be obtained?

Some development functions fund training in the community e.g. sports, business, rural and urban development. EHOs will regularly be called upon to provide information and training to third sector organisations, usually on an ad hoc basis, but more formal links exist to provide e.g. food hygiene training with ethnic groups.

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