You are here Articles & Speeches Speeches Assembly Speech- Education and the Economy 12/05/2008

Assembly Speech- Education and the Economy 12/05/2008

E-mail Print

Mr Speaker


In supporting this motion I do so having spent the majority of my business career in the development of job specific training programmes, vocational qualification and academic qualifications at the level of foundation degrees.


During a question time period I posed the question to the Minister for Employment and learning regarding a demand led strategy within the provision skills training and vocational qualifications and received verbal assurance for him that he will implement a demand led strategy. 


I believe that industry is seeking to play a positive role in helping this Assembly develop appropriate strategies and actions for the provision of qualifications and development programmes that will provide relevant and appropriate qualifications that that will address skills shortages and that will drive up the skills base and enhance the potential of the Executive to attract inward investment.


I would like to comment briefly on three areas:


Just over a year ago the European   Commission in Brussels   announced that it would be targeting the entrepreneurs of tomorrow in a   new plan to bring entrepreneurship onto the school curriculum. I am   generally a Euro sceptic but in this instance I think they have got it   right. In enhancing the role of education in promoting a business spirit   at school and universities would help our young people to be more creative   and self-confident in whatever they undertake.

I believe that education in entrepreneurship dramatically increases dramatically increases the chances of start-ups and self employment in SMEs and note that around 20% of participants in mini-company activities in European secondary schools actually go on to create their own company.

As I have been advocating stronger links between our colleges and businesses already I support the ground breaking initiative on “Lectures into Industry” and I would advocate extending this initiative to include schoolteachers at an increased level and to include business people being involved in teaching as well.

Each sector of industry and commerce   is cover by a Sector Skills Council. These councils are led by business   people and are required to develop a Sector Skills Agreement approved by DEL, INI an others   with an interest in the development of a strategy for the specific sectors.   These SSAs are demand led. They reflect the needs of industry through an   agreement between industry sectors and Government bodies about the needs   of the industry including sector specific qualifications. This sector   skills agreement has been developed to get industry and training providers   working together to improve performance, skills and quality throughout the   UK.   But the agreements will be implemented locally. It is vital that industry   and employers are working together to improve our skills base and yet   something like 75% of employers don’t have a company training and   development plan. We need to convince them of the benefits of investing in   their people and help them deliver T&D more systematically. This needs   to be tied in the DEL   strategy document FE Means Business. We can longer have the luxury of   colleges delivering courses that turn out those who cannot get a job   because their qualifications are not need by businesses. I acknowledge   that the FE Colleges also deliver programmes for those with literacy and   numeric programmes. But with employers reporting significant skills   shortages the strategy must be to deliver programmes, courses and   qualifications through a demand led strategy these skills shortages.

 Now is the time to reverse the brain   drain by attracting back to Northern Ireland some of our   brightest and best young people. Many of our brightest pupils opted to   complete their studies outside of Northern Ireland and in doing   so never returned. This applied at all levels with graduates, skilled   technicians and technologists being headhunted by multinational   organisations from across the globe. It is acknowledged that Northern Ireland’s   economic success will be built on high tech and knowledge based industries.   There just aren’t enough sufficient talented, motivated and qualified   individuals to act as a springboard to match expectations and give the   economy the boost it needs. I acknowledge that the DEL Minister has set up   a study on this issues and I look forward to seeing the results of the   work and especially the implementation phase.     

Site developed by Avec Solutions