Minister Lyons Recognises Voluntary Sector's Employment Support

Communities Minister, Gordon Lyons, acknowledges the voluntary sector's role in supporting employment for those facing barriers at the 'Building an Inclusive Labour Market' conference.

The conference which was organised by NICVA, the representative body for the sector, took place at Stormont Hotel. It focused on increasing participation in the labour market, a key consideration for the Department for Communities (DfC) with linkages to anti-poverty, economic inactivity and disability employment.

Minister Lyons emphasised the strong collaboration between the Department and voluntary and community sector organizations, recognising the challenges they both encounter.

The Minister said: "My Department delivers a range of employability support programmes through the voluntary and community sector including Workable NI, Access to Work NI and Labour Market Partnerships.
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"I value the services and supports delivered by the sector and the partnership and collaboration which allows greater expertise, reach and responsiveness to the needs of our customers.

"Initiatives such as our Labour Market Partnerships and the launch of the EPIC Futures NI Hub, help to channel this collaboration, direct our activity and target specific outcomes for those individuals facing additional barriers to employment.

"I recently announced that DfC funding for the voluntary and community sector will increase by £1.45million in the 2024-25 budget - an acknowledgement of work carried out across the wider Department. Whilst we would like to do more to meet our high ambitions for our labour market, the reality of constrained finances means we need to find new and innovative ways to achieve more for our customers with less.

"I am challenging my Department to find better ways to achieve outcomes against these pressures and it is reassuring to see that our voluntary and community sector is also looking inwards and challenging itself to do the same."

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