Department for the Economy Board minutes 2022 - 30 June 2022

Minutes from the Departmental Board meeting on 30 June 2022.


  • Mike Brennan (Chair)
  • Heather Cousins
  • David Malcolm
  • Shane Murphy
  • Paul Grocott
  • Colm McKenna (Non-Executive Board Member)
  • (Name redacted)
  • Alan Russell
  • (Name redacted) (deputising for Sharon Hetherington)

In attendance:

  • Lisa Morgan (for ODT)
  • (Name redacted) (ODT Secretariat)
  • (Name redacted) (CMB Secretariat)
  • (Name redacted) (Permanent Secretary’s Office)
  • Brian Doran (Southern Regional College)
  • Raymond Sloan (Southern Regional College)
  • Keith Kilpatrick (Southern Regional College)
  • Libby Shackles (Southern Regional College)


  • Richard Rodgers
  • ​​​​​​​Michael McKavanagh (Non-Executive Board Member)
  • Fiona Keenan (Non-Executive Board Member) 
  • Sharon Hetherington
  • Michelle Bell
  • (Name redacted) (Boardroom Apprentice)


Agenda Item

Actions Arising From Discussion

Action Owner and Current Position (to be completed prior to the next Board Meeting)

Agenda Item 1:Presentation from Southern Regional College

The Board meeting was held in Southern Regional College, Armagh. Chief Executive Brian Doran presented.


A number of areas were discussed:

  • Introduction to the College.
  • Estates investment from DfE.
  • New HE & Innovation Centre in Newry.
  • Profile of the College from NISRA stats.
  • FE/HE & Essential Skills – drop in enrolment challenging; key developments referenced in 10x skills strategy; traineeships offered are more than other Colleges.
  • Advanced Technical Awards – project significant increase 22/23.
  • Higher Level Skills – developing in conjunction with industry; partnering with local universities & Open University.
  • Honours Degree provision.
  • Higher Level Apprenticeships – supporting companies; significant growth.
  • School Partnership – SRC is largest provider at KS4 across the sector.
  • Potential College Partnership Solution.
  • Sustainability Strategy.
  • Challenges & Opportunities.


A tour of the premises followed


Agenda Item 2:Board Register of Interests/ Conflicts

No new interests declared.


Agenda Item 3:Minutes of meeting 15th May 2022

Agreed without amendment.


Agenda Item 4: Strategic Issues

A number of areas were discussed:


  • Missions.

DfE lead the Employability & Productivity Mission which contains 7 signature projects and feed into the Green Growth Agenda Mission with respect to Energy.


  • Chief Scientific & Technical Officer. The importance of this new role was emphasised.


  • Invest NI Review.

Some officials are not clear about the difference between the Invest NI Board Effectiveness Review and the Invest NI Review.


  • Covid Public Inquiry.

Terms of reference have been agreed. Resourcing is an issue for DfE.


Agenda Item 5: Finance Update

(Name redacted) presented:


  • Budget can’t be set as there isn’t an Executive but DfE have been given a ‘planning envelope’.
  • We will continue to bid for larger inescapable pressures.
  • £55m of pressures have been declared to DoF.
  • Working with DoF re ESA10 issues which may ease pressures.
  • Invest NI may have a significant in-year easement which would help DfE pressures.


Agenda Item 6: Questions on Papers to Note

Post Project Evaluation Update

  • Lessons learned.


Economic Recovery Action Plan End-Year Report

  • How to raise media interest.


Construction Industry Training Board

  • Report circulated seemed to be a year out of date. AP: To be investigated.


Resourcing & People Committee

  • Accuracy of data.


Annual Health & Safety Report

  • Should there be health & safety training at Board level. AP: Information to be provided.


People Plan:

  • What has been provided to staff/ detail around outcomes.


HR Update:

  • Overall figures for absence and trends.
  • Return to the office. Thanks was given to DfE Premises Team regarding their work.


Audit & Risk Committee Minutes:

  • Accounts sign off.


Draft 2022/23 Business Plan:

  • Resourcing challenges and metrics for deliverables.










Heather Cousins







Colm McKenna




















Agenda Item 7: Risk and Risk Appetite

Alan Russell presented:


  • Board effectiveness review recommended annual session to discuss risk.
  • Risk appetite levels agreed as Averse, Cautious, Open and Hungry.
  • Questions to ask – from Orange Book: Management of risk – Principles and Concepts.
  • 13 broad categories of risk discussed and risk appetite level agreed for each by Board. AP: List to be drafted with narrative and circulated to members.

AP: Exemplar to be shared with Alan Russell.













Alan Russell


Colm McKenna

Agenda Item 8: Organisational Delivery & Transformation Programme

Board members convened a Programme Board meeting for the rest of the available time.


Agenda Item 9: AOB

Covid Inquiry:

  • AP: Update to be provided for August Board.


Governance Input for Annual Report and Accounts.

  • Provision of information on core activities and time allocated for each item discussed by the Board. AP: to be discussed with Corporate Governance.


June Ingram







Alan Russell

Date of next meeting: Thursday 25 August at Adelaide House.

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