20/06/2002

Economic development forum outline key priorities

A Framework Document launched today by the Economic Development Forum has outlined the key priorities to be addressed if Northern Ireland Economy is to be significantly strengthened by 2010.

The document – the first publication by the Economic Development Forum – entitled 'Working Together for a Stronger Economy' has identified the need for action in the seven key priority areas:
  • Knowledge / Productivity Growth
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Enterprise
  • Outward Looking
  • Equality of Opportunity / Social Inclusion
  • Human Capital– enhancing capabilities and skills
  • Competitive Physical Infrastructure
Each of these priority areas have an identified overall objective, a series of performance indicators and associated targets and have been directly linked to a series of supporting actions by key contributors.

The 2010 targets announced include:
  • Increase manufacturing and private services productivity to close to or above UK levels
  • Increase R & D Expenditure per employee to UK levels
  • Increase the NI business birth rate closer to the UK level
  • Exports to grow to UK levels (per employee) and tourism numbers to double
  • Lower longer-term unemployment to UK levels
  • Raise the skill levels of the NI workforce and in particular raise levels of essential skills
  • Raise broadband access to 10% of Invest NI client companies by 2005
Mr Bob Barbour, a member of the Forum and representing the views of the Centre for Competitiveness, CBI, IOD and NICCI, said: “The targets we have set for the economy are realistic ones. Our aim is to set in motion a process that will ultimately improve Northern Ireland’s position on the European League Table in terms of GDP per head. We also saw a need to develop a mechanism that would ensure all sectors – public, private, community and voluntary – were pulling in the right, and indeed the same, direction to achieve our economic goals.

Mr Barbour said the Economic Development Forum had the responsibility for driving this forward.

Chairman of the Economic Development Forum, Sir Reg Empey MLA, said the document presented a clear and agreed statement by the Forum of the priorities to be addressed by all sectors if the Northern Ireland economy was to be significantly strengthened during the period to the year 2010.

(SP)

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