25/10/2007

Executive Pledges 6,500 New Jobs

Employment has proved to be a major focus for the Northern Ireland Executive.

This week’s high profile announcement of the long-awaited Programme for Government includes the aim of creating 6,500 jobs over the next four years through inward investment.

First Minister Ian Paisley said it was "another momentous day" and that the aim of the executive was to "build a better future for all".

Mr Paisley said that when devolution returned in May doubts had been raised about the ability of the Executive to co-operate.

"This Executive can and will work together in the interests of all our people," he said.

In the Programme for Government, unveiled by the first and deputy first ministers, there is an emphasis on the need to develop a dynamic economy.

It relates that the Executive wants at least three quarters of the new jobs to attract salaries above the local private sector average.

The target is for 45 new business and 600 existing companies to become exporters over the next three years.

A new Employment and Support allowance will also be introduced next year to enable those unemployed due to ill health or disability to return to work.

Ministers also want to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020.

Among other issues, the Executive is also pledging to extend free public transport to everyone over 60 during the course of next year (currently the age is 65).

Other highlights include a pledge to take forward major building projects at more than 100 schools over the next three years.

(BMcC)

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