|An Roinn Fostaíochta agus Foghlama; Ulster Scots: Depairtment for Employ an Learnin|
|Formed||December 1999 (as Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment)|
|Dissolved||6 May 2016|
|Headquarters||Adelaide House, 39-49 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8FD|
|Employees||2,111 (September 2011)|
|Annual budget||£787.3 million (current) & £41.2 million (capital) for 2011-12|
The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), (Irish: An Roinn Fostaíochta agus Foghlama;Ulster Scots: Depairtment for Employ an Learnin), was a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department was the Minister for Employment and Learning. The department was initially known as the Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment (DHFETE), between 1999 and 2001.
Following the Fresh Start Agreement, DEL was dissolved and its functions transferred to the Department for the Economy and Department for Communities, in order to reduce the size of the Northern Ireland Executive.
DEL's overall aim was to "promote learning and skills, to prepare people for work and to support the economy".
The department's network of 'job centres' and 'jobs and benefits offices' advertised job opportunities for Northern Ireland residents. It was also responsible for policy in the following areas:
In the Irish Government, its main counterparts were:
Following a referendum on the Belfast Agreement on 23 May 1998 and the granting of royal assent to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on 19 November 1998, a Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive were established by the United Kingdom Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The process was known as devolution and was set up to return devolved legislative powers to Northern Ireland. DEL is one of five new devolved Northern Ireland departments created in December 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
The department was named the Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment until 20 July 2001 but was changed to its current title as the initials DHEFETE were pronounced as "Defeat".
A devolved minister first took office on 2 December 1999. Devolution was suspended for four periods, during which the department came under the responsibility of direct rule ministers from the Northern Ireland Office:
Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption. The Independent Review of Economic Policy, which reported in September 2009, recommended a single economic policy department within the Northern Ireland Executive, which would result in the abolition of DEL.
On 11 January 2012, the First Minister and deputy First Minister, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness respectively, announced their intention to abolish the department. The department's functions would be "divided principally" between the Department of Education and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment "in an agreed manner". The proposal was resisted by the Alliance Party, which viewed it as "power grab" by the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin, but was approved on 18 January 2012. No timescale for the abolition was outlined and the department remained in operation, as of February 2015.
|Minister||IMage||Party||Took office||Left office|
|Sean Farren||SDLP||2 December 1999||11 February 2000|
|Sean Farren||SDLP||30 May 2000||14 December 2001|
|Carmel Hanna||SDLP||14 December 2001||14 October 2002|
|Sir Reg Empey||UUP||8 May 2007||27 October 2010|
|Danny Kennedy||UUP||27 October 2010||5 May 2011|
|Stephen Farry||Alliance||16 May 2011||6 May 2016|
During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department: