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Northern Ireland appoints more than 400 individuals to around 117 boards a year – could you be one of them?

Non-executive director and other public appointments in Northern Ireland are managed by the relevant department following a standard process regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland and her team (CPANI).

When recruiting to boards in Northern Ireland, departments ask applicants to complete an application form showing how they meet the selection criteria and demonstrate they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience required. This approach is designed to ensure a good mix on public boards and to promote a public perception that there is wide citizen representation in the decision-making process around how public services are delivered in Northern Ireland. No CVs or qualifications are required; the focus is more on how you demonstrate you will fulfil the role rather than listing qualifications or job titles held.

Departments advertise open positions on their website and the CPANI website. Advertisements are also carried in three local papers.

The roles are primarily based in Northern Ireland and the time commitments can vary from as little as four days a year to a full-time commitment, with the average appointment being one to two days a month. Overall, the application process takes about four months, with the appointment being finally approved by the responsible minister.

CPANI seeks to ensure that boards are reflective of the community they serve. Transparent and open processes are applied for every public appointment and each appointment is truly made on merit.

Roles currently advertised include school governors, the chair of Northern Ireland transport holding company and non-executive members for Ulster Supported Employment Limited.

CPANI meets with its Scottish, English and Welsh counterparts once a year to exchange ideas and share any process changes. It also runs workshops on how to apply and how to make the most of your application form and interview.

The Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland regulates ministerial appointments to most public bodies and publishes a Code of Practice which provides Departments with guidance on the process to be followed when making public appointments.

Alison Ring FCA, Director for Public Sector, ICAEW commented: “It is important for Chartered Accountants from all backgrounds to consider taking on these public sector non-executive roles.

“Not only do these positions provide an opportunity to give something back,” continued Ring, “but there is much to be personally gained from taking on such roles. For example, in increasing your personal and technical skills, as well as experience of operating in a board environment.”

If you want to find out more about taking on a non-executive role in the public sector, read our previous article: What’s it like being a NED in the public sector?