Assembly Speech- Regional Investment Inequalities 7/10/2008

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Mr Speaker/ Deputy Speaker
I rise to support the amendment.
It is the responsibility of all the elected representatives within this chamber to do all that is possible to ensure prosperity; job/career opportunities are available in equal measure to all our constituents. The question is all about how can this be achieved.

There is obviously a need to attract a greater level of mobile inward investment to Northern Ireland. This is not something that is going to be easy in the days ahead in the economic current economic climate.
However, we need to recognise the constraints
The limited potential the current downturn in world banking and finance creates but at the same time ensure we are ready for the upturn
We need to make Northern Ireland attractive to investors not just from overseas but indigenous businesses with the potential to expand.
1. This is in the area of excellence in education producing high quality, motivated and qualified students especially within the STEM areas
2. The development of motivated, entrepreneurial business people and a creative business culture that embraces risk taking and within which business failure does not carry a stigma.
Additionally we need to ensure the skills base of our labour force can be benchmarked favourably against the best in the world.
• This can only be assured if we start in the early years of our education system to embed business sense within the curriculum.  Education at primary level that will encourage business thinking and entrepreneurship. 
• Secondary level education that gives the opportunity to gain meaningful vocational qualifications – and the increased opportunity to gain access to Higher Educational courses and the attainment of vocational foundation degrees or degrees.
• Apprenticeship training schemes that can be measured against the best in the world and not be found inferior – giving our young people the best possible training options.
• Road, rail and air links will be an important feature in locating a business and Northern Ireland needs to ensure these links – and of course technology links are not an impediment to business success. In addition we need to encourage mobility within our working age population – jobs cannot always be on the doorstep.
• If we put the business culture, the job skills and the support infrastructure in place then mobile investment will be attracted to at the very least consider Northern Ireland as a potential place to invest.
 
In conclusion, I reject the narrow type of thinking that is implicit within this original motion. We all want to see prosperity, we all want jobs to be located in our constituencies but it is the businessmen and women with funds to invest who will make the decision to locate and specifically where they will locate.
Let us create the right conditions and the whole of Northern Ireland will benefit through business success.