07/09/2005

Skilled workforce 'foundation' for success, says Minister

Employment and Learning Minister, Angela Smith has said that a skilled and knowledgeable workforce is the "foundation" for business success.

The Minister was speaking to representatives of 34 organisations, from across Northern Ireland, attending an Investors in People award ceremony held today at Hillsborough Castle.

Paying tribute to the efforts of the award winners, Angela Smith said: “This morning's ceremony is an outstanding illustration of how Northern Ireland business is playing its part in building a knowledge and skills based economy. To compete successfully and realise increased productivity, turnover and profit, increasing numbers of employers are recognising the need to raise the skills level of their workforce.

“In addition, the experience of Investor in People organisations is a tangible illustration of the positive impact workforce development has on business performance.”

Stressing that Investors in People recognition was not the end of the journey for award recipients, the Minister said: “In addition to their assessment report, Investor in People organisations have a suite of business improvement tools and stretch options from which to further develop the capability of their people, helping turn good practice into best practice.”

Challenging local employers to continue the uptake of the Investors in People Standard which has, since its inception, attracted over 860 organisations here, Angela Smith said: “I cannot overstate the need for employers in Northern Ireland to take action to raise the skills levels of their workforce so that we remain competitive and positioned to take advantage of future economic opportunities.

“That is why my department has produced a Skills Strategy that focuses on raising the skills of the current workforce, enhancing the quality of those gaining employment and addressing the skills requirements of those not yet in employment. The inclusion of the Investors in People Standard within the strategy recognises the valuable contribution this business improvement tool makes to aligning learning and skills development with desired organisational and, ultimately, economic outcomes.”

Investors in People is a business improvement tool that helps organisations to compete and succeed through improved people performance.

The framework is designed to help organisations develop the knowledge and skills of their people, so that what they can do is what the business needs them to do.

A new version of the Standard, designed to meet the changing needs of business and industry, was launched on 17 November 2004 and came into effect in January 2005.

(SP)

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