20th Nov 2012
Skills are the key to empowering workforce, says Minister
SKILLING up the workforce must be at the centre of any drive to capitalise on opportunities during Derry’s City of Culture year in 2013, according to Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry.
He was addressing delegates at the fifth Golden Bridges Conference in Boston where the theme centred around ‘Community, Culture and Commerce' and focused on forging transatlantic links between Boston and the North West, specifically during the forthcoming City of Culture celebrations.
Referring to the recent Executive announcement of additional support for a range of economic initiatives including an increase in 500 higher education places, the Minister said: "Whilst the precise allocation of the additional student places is under consideration, I have committed to allocate the largest share to the University of Ulster.
“However, the University of Ulster has full discretion as to the allocation of the places amongst their campuses and it is anticipated these places will go to the Magee campus. This additional investment in our further and higher education sectors will continue to develop the strength of our local skilled workforce and further assist in the promotion of Northern Ireland as an attractive location for investors to do business.
“Derry made history in July 2010 when it was awarded the UK City of Culture designation for 2013. The world class cultural programme now in place will dramatically increase the number of visits to the city.
“My Department has prioritised support for the tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland. Ensuring our people have the skills necessary to make the most of this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity is of prime importance. A suitably skilled workforce to welcome and facilitate our visitors can help deliver that vision in 2013. ”
The Minister also presented Tom Hall, Vice President of AllState with an honourary award in recognition of his outstanding work in bringing the company to Northern Ireland. Tom Hall is vice president of Allstate, a global IT organisation which employs over 6,000 people with 2,000 employees based in Northern Ireland at the Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane offices.
The Minister also held meetings with Joanne Goldstein, Secretary of Labour and Workforce Development to discuss innovative initiatives in respect of workforce training and learning, and specifically schemes such as the One Stop Careers Centres and Apprenticeships Schemes where the Minister explored potential implementation of similar projects in Northern Ireland.