08/03/2002

Education has crucial role in securing robust economy

Sir Reg Empey, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment has said that the crucial role to be played by the education sector in securing a robust economy for Northern Ireland cannot be overemphasised.

The Minister was addressing the 11th meeting of the Economic Development Forum at the Bangor Campus of the North Down and Ards Institute of Further and Higher Education held on Friday March 8.

The Forum provides advice to Ministers on matters affecting the development and future competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy and is attended by representatives of the major social partner organisations.

The Minister said: “The Executive’s Programme for Government recognizes the vital role of education and training in supporting economic development and prosperity and the need to develop and strengthen the existing links between the education system and the world of work.

“Members of the Forum are equally persuaded of the importance of strengthening such links and have reflected this in their work to develop a set of medium-term strategic priorities for the Northern Ireland economy for the period to 2010 which we discussed at today’s meeting.”

Carmel Hanna, who was attending her first meeting of the Forum as Minister for Employment and Learning, welcomed the development of the medium term strategic priorities and stressed the particular interest of her Department in equipping the workforce with appropriate skills to meet the needs of the economy. She also updated members on the work of the Taskforce on Employability and Long-Term Unemployment.

Members of the Forum also took the opportunity to provide feedback on two key documents issued recently for public consultation – the DETI draft Corporate Plan and DRD’s Regional Transportation Strategy.

(MB)

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