19/12/2011

Farry Addresses US Skills Conference

Stateside attitudes to the development of skilled, qualified workers were in focus last week when the NI Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry addressed an international skills conference in Washington.

Entitled 'Building the Employment Agenda: New Solutions to Close the Skills Gap', it was jointly hosted by the Atlantic Council and PricewaterhouseCoopers, that brought together leading business, government and academic experts to analyse the issue and generate solutions for government policy, business strategy and educational priorities to combat this skills gap.

The conference was the first of a series of high-level conferences to be held in the US, Europe and Asia.

While new job creation tops the political and economic agenda across developed and developing economies, companies continue to report difficulty finding qualified workers to fill their available vacancies, despite persistently high unemployment.

Addressing the conference on the work being taken forward in Northern Ireland on the skills strategy, the Stormont Minister said: "The Skills Strategy outlines my commitment to providing the opportunities for individuals to equip themselves with the skills needed by employers both now and in the future.

"It is clear that there must be a concerted effort to drive up skills on all fronts. Of particular importance is the need to increase the number of people with higher-level skills, management and leadership skills and people with skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

"As the economy changes and companies adapt to an increasingly competitive market place, it is vital that employers in Northern Ireland actively consider the changing skill needs of their workforce.

"With around 80% of the 2020 workforce already in work, my Department is focused on working with local employers to help them equip their employees with the skills they need - both now and for the future," he said.

(BMcC)

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