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So far NICO has created 40 blog entries.

A Welcome Return to Jordan for NI-CO Social Care Team

This spring celebrates the formal launch of NI-CO’s latest EU funded project in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The €5 meuro project will reunite NI-CO’s social care team with colleagues from the Ministry of Social Development in Amman in an attempt to improve and modernise the quality of Jordan’s social protection system. In line with the National Vision 2025, the Human Resources Strategy 2016-2025 and the Ministry of Social Development strategy action plan 2017-2021, the 42 month project will focus on three core objectives : to enhance policy and governance of social protection; to professionalise social work and to strengthen the role of Civil Society Organisations as actors in social protection. While at the institutional level, the team will predominately work alongside the Ministry of Social Development, training and capacity building activities will also extend to the National Aid Fund (NAF), The Higher Council for Persons with Disabilities (HCPWD), Civil Society and its partners.

Project Manager, Thomas McArdle, explains, ‘NI-CO are thrilled to have been awarded this grant project by the EU after the success of our institutional twinning project with the Ministry of Social Development in Jordan during 2013-2015. Under the ‘Vision 2025’, the Government of Jordan has identified Social Protection as a key sector for development. The increasing demands on the system from the most vulnerable groups in society (people with disabilities, women, youth, children and the DOM population) requires an urgent modernisation of the existing governance system and a greater involvement of the private and NGO sector in service delivery. Over the next 3.5 years, the NI-CO team will work with a range of stakeholders to develop the capacities of social workers on individual case management and on labour inclusion of disadvantaged groups. Using the NI experience, we shall provide technical and advisory support to develop and implement a de-institutionalisation pilot experience based on 5 social care centres for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable categories.’ At the formal opening ceremony attended by the Jordanian Prime Minister and EU Ambassador, the Minister for Social Development, Basma Mousa Is-haqat, expressed her gratitude to the European Union for its continuous support to the Social Protection Sector in Jordan and for understanding the challenges facing Jordan, including the consequences of the Syrian refugee crisis. She welcomed the opportunity to build upon the work of the first EU project delivered by NI-CO and outlined her ambition to move from providing institutional care to alternative care, in addition to empowering women, young people with disabilities.

 

By |2019-05-21T09:53:23+00:00May 8th, 2019|News|0 Comments

Supporting the Ministry of Health in Croatia

NI-CO is currently implementing phase one of a two phase project that will develop a strategic road map for addressing the key issues as identified in the Croatian National Health Care Strategy 2012-2020. Working with the Ministry of Health in Zagreb, the NI-CO team comprising expertise resourced primarily from within the Department of Health in Northern Ireland will assist with identifying the necessary building blocks to address a number of concerns namely :

  • Increasing shortages of healthcare professionals and related increases in pay to ensure that public sector wages remain in line with those in the private sector
  • Increasing public demands for high quality healthcare, with improved outcomes, partly fuelled by progresses made in treatments, medicine and technology
  • Increases in the cost of health care technologies and drugs
  • Changing demographics particularly increases in the elderly population and the related rise in multi-morbid patients with long-term chronic conditions

 

By |2019-05-01T15:06:15+00:00May 1st, 2019|News|0 Comments

Seeking experts for EU Cyber Resilience for Development Project (Cyber 4D)

NI-CO is currently seeking experts for its pool of expertise for a number of short and longer term roles on its Cyber Resilience for Development (Cyber 4D) project in Africa and Asia.  We are particularly keen to hear from experts with experience in international development projects in the following disciplines: cyber resilience, IT governance, international relations, law, capacity building.

All interested parties should e mail a copy of their current CV to bconlan@nico.org.uk

Please download Project Summary here: Cyber Resilience for Development project summary

Please download CV template here : EU CV Template

By |2019-01-07T15:02:22+00:00January 7th, 2019|Jobs|0 Comments

Algeria – Protecting the Consumer !

In late June, NI-CO was delighted to welcome 6 senior delegates from Algeria who were visiting Belfast as part of a UK study mission designed to explore best practice in consumer protection. The visit was organised by NI-CO as part of our EU financed Institutional Twinning project which we have been delivering in Algiers since 2017. During their trip, senior managers from the Algerian Ministry of Commerce were kindly hosted by practitioners from Trading Standards within the Department for Economy, the Consumer Council, Food Standards Agency, Port Health, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Consumer Safety NI who shared real life cases of current consumer complaints, stakeholder management issues and threats to consumer safety. During the meetings the group were encouraged to reflect upon current practices within Algeria and to discuss how the various models employed by Northern Ireland might be adapted to meet the evolving needs of the consumer protection sector in Algeria.

 

 

By |2018-07-04T13:55:29+00:00July 4th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Montenegro : Perfecting Personnel Policies and Procedures

This month NI-CO were delighted to host a number of senior Human Resource Managers from Montenegro. The delegation were visiting Northern Ireland as part of a UK bilateral funded public administration programme which NI-CO has been supporting since 2012.

NI-CO’s HR adviser Mr Paul McCallion, who has been part of the UK project from its inception explains ‘ The law on Public Administration passed in Montenegro in 2013 has had direct implications for HR management in 150 public institutions across the country. The project has achieved tremendous results thus far in recruiting and training dedicated HR staff throughout the Montenegrin public service who have both the skills and capacity to implement new legislation relating to merit based recruitment, appraisal and the training and development of all civil servants. This study visit to Northern Ireland aimed to showcase the UK’s most successful innovations in Human Resource Management from staff welfare and equal opportunities to performance management and occupational health. As well as illustrating theory in practice, I hope the meetings gave delegates a chance learn from the experiences of some of NI’s most experienced HR practitioners.’

As well as visits to Capita HR Solutions, Equality Commission, Local Government Staff Commission and Lisburn and Castlereagh Borough Council, the group met with The Department of Finance to learn more about how digital services have improved HR management in recent years.

By |2018-02-22T12:21:40+00:00February 22nd, 2018|News|0 Comments

A Return to Tbilisi for NI-CO’s Regulatory Services Team

NI-CO is delighted to be back in Georgia delivering our second EU Institutional Twinning project in the field of Market Surveillance. The 2 year contract is part of a large €45 million EU support package for Georgia which has been designed to eliminate ‘Technical Barriers to Trade’ and implement the DCFTA between the EU and Georgia via the development of an EU compliant market surveillance service.

Based within the Technical and Construction Supervision Agency (TCSA) in Tbilisi, the NI-CO Regulatory services team is working to support staff in the implementation of the multi-annual action plan on market surveillance on industrial and consumer products adopted by the Governmental Decree N641. The project will be focused around 3 core components: legal approximation; institutional strengthening and capacity building of TCSA staff and awareness raising to publicize important information about TCSA activities and services in relation to market surveillance and consumer protection.

By |2017-12-19T08:47:20+00:00December 19th, 2017|News|Comments Off on A Return to Tbilisi for NI-CO’s Regulatory Services Team

The Challenge of Enforcing Fair Online Trading

Over the last 12 months, NI-CO has been working as part of an international consortium to deliver a prestigious EU-wide contract to assist in the development and provision of training in internet investigations for the EU Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) and the Consumer Product Safety Networks (CSN).

The € 1.7 million contract is a direct response to the rapid growth in on line trading and will see the development and provision of high-quality training and learning materials to support the work of all EU national consumer protection authorities and the network of authorities responsible for consumer product safety.

Cognisant of the varying levels of experience and competence across the EU consumer protection community, the project has developed a confidential  e-enforcement academy accessible via the EU website where users can access information on the most basic elements of ‘e commerce’ and new business models to a more sophisticated e learning facility. The training and supporting learning material is of a very high standard and is already proving to be extremely useful to EU consumer protection and product safety enforcement staff as they meet the day to day challenges of implementing new EU directives. As well as providing advice and support on legal issues, the on line tutorials offer practical support about where and how to target resources, the principles for effective market surveillance, intelligence sources and formal versus informal enforcement action.

One of the highlights of the project to date has been the development of blogposts alerting investigators and consumer protection officers to on line scams involving counterfeit products, holidays, investment opportunities, dating websites, IT technical support and employment opportunities. These posts reference real life cases and enforcement action from across the globe and allow officers to introduce more preventative and proactive measures to improve e-enforcement and combat on line fraud. At present we are finalising a ‘Special Holiday Consumer Safety Post ’ – identifying possible product safety problems in purchasing presents on line in the lead up to  the holiday season.

As we approach the second year of the project, we look forward to continuing our work alongside The Spanish Association for Standardization and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) in enhancing our offering for the consumer protection community and in safeguarding the 280 million individuals in the EU28 who shop online.

 

By |2017-11-29T12:49:54+00:00November 29th, 2017|News|Comments Off on The Challenge of Enforcing Fair Online Trading

Jordan’s Minister for Social Development visits Belfast

NI-CO were privileged to recently host the Minister for Social Development in Jordan, Her Excellency Minister Hala Lattouf to Belfast. The Minister’s visit follows the successful delivery of one of NI-CO’s largest EU funded programmes in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan  which saw a number of Northern Ireland’s leading social care experts travel to Amman to work alongside their counterparts in the development of a more robust and inclusive social protection system.

The three day programme to Belfast allowed Minister Lattouf to explore, at first-hand, the recent innovations in NI’s social services provision including the support networks we provide for vulnerable groups and victims of domestic and sexual violence.  As well as meeting with senior government officials in the Department of Health to discuss policy and budget issues, the Minister had the rare opportunity to visit a range of specialist projects in Northern Ireland dedicated to safeguarding the most vulnerable in our society. At MACs Supporting Children & Young People, Cedar Foundation, Ardkeen Supported Living, Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre and Woman’s Aid, Minster Latouff examined the latest initiatives for supporting mental health, homelessness, disability, abuse and youth justice.

It is hoped that the Minister’s visit to Northern Ireland will prompt further reform in Jordan and foster stronger working relations between Amman and Belfast in the future.

 

By |2017-11-15T14:08:11+00:00November 9th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Jordan’s Minister for Social Development visits Belfast

Always Check the Label !

UK shares best practice with Algeria in food labelling and Consumer Education

NI-CO recently organised a study programme for 7 senior government officials from Algeria to visit the UK to learn about effective food labelling and consumer education with regards to food nutritional values.

The visit was organised under the EU funded institutional twinning project which NI-CO has been delivering in Algeria since January 2017: Support to the Institutional framework for the collection, processing and promotion of information in relation to consumer protection and was designed to allow participants to experience at first-hand how the UK’s leading consumer protection authorities are helping to tackle problems of diabetes, obesity and heart disease through targeted consumer education initiatives.

During the 5 day programme, delegates were hosted by Invest Northern Ireland, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (TSI), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Haringey Council to learn about the management, planning and operational challenges of effective consumer protection programmes which meet EU and WTO standards. Presentations and interactive workshops were delivered on consumer policy and enforcement, emergency planning and resilience, food labelling and healthy catering campaigns. At the end of the week officials were given the opportunity to visit the Wolfson Institute in the University of London and the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) at UK Health Forum to explore the UK’s latest advances in preventing obesity-related ill-health through targeted consumer education programmes to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat consumption.

By |2017-11-07T13:19:20+00:00November 7th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Always Check the Label !

NI-CO Associate appointed Honorary Consul for Bulgaria

NI-CO would like to extend our congratulations to our Social Policy Adviser, Mr Paul Martin CBE who has been appointed by the Bulgarian Government as Honorary Consul for Northern Ireland.

As well as being the main contact point for Bulgaria’s Embassy in the UK and the Bulgarian community in Northern Ireland, Mr Martin will facilitate cultural and business ties between the 2 countries.

Congratulating Mr Martin on his new role, Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy, Dr Andrew McCormick said:  “Developing international links is hugely important for Northern Ireland’s future as we continue to share opportunities to work together and develop links in trade, investment and tourism.  I wish Paul well in his new post and look forward to working with him on issues of mutual interest in the future.”

Mr Martin takes up the appointment following a prestigious public service career spanning 38 years which saw him rise to the position of Chief Social Services Officer for the NI Assembly.

It was following his retirement in 2008 that Mr Martin first established links with Bulgaria when he was appointed as NI-CO’s EU Resident Twinning Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in Sofia.  During the 2 year post, Mr Martin nurtured a close working relationship with government bodies and NGO’s across Bulgaria and welcomes this opportunity to extend those strong links through this appointment. Speaking at the opening of the Consulate Office Mr Martin stated “I am honoured to be offered this appointment and look forward to doing what I can to assist Bulgarian citizens who come to visit, work or reside here. Furthermore I will endeavour to promote trade and business links as well as promoting cultural, tourism and cultural exchanges”.

 

By |2017-10-16T13:12:13+00:00October 16th, 2017|News|Comments Off on NI-CO Associate appointed Honorary Consul for Bulgaria