Investing in the skills and talent of our workforce is absolutely vital to economic success, said Economy Minister Diane Dodds.
The Minister was speaking on Belfast Met’s E3 campus as she launched ‘Skills for a 10X Economy’, the Department of the Economy’s strategy to help more people improve their job prospects and achieve their economic potential.
The strategy is a key pillar of the 10X Economic Vision for Northern Ireland, which the Minister released earlier this month.
The skills strategy plans to focus on innovation by increasing higher education qualifications in technical and vocational skills and rebalancing higher education towards science and technology engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The Minister said: “My ambition is to transform Northern Ireland into one of the small open economies of the global elite and skills are essential to achieve this. I cannot overstate this.
“We already have a talented workforce, but we need to build on it. Investing in our skills and talents will create more and better job opportunities, greater income potential, better individual well-being and, therefore, an improved overall economy.
“Skills for a 10X Economy” sets out a plan to significantly increase the qualifications of technical and vocational skills through continuing education. In doing so, we will expand into the key strategic areas that are vital to our economic ambitions as set out in 10X Economic Vision.
“At the same time, we will seek to rebalance higher education and postgraduate degrees towards STEM subjects, which are so crucial to spur innovation and equip us for the jobs of the future.
“The strategy will also tackle inequalities by helping low- and unskilled people overcome barriers to employment and make the most of their abilities.”
The Minister continued: ‘I will create a Skills Council for Northern Ireland which will bring together leaders from government, business, education and trade unions because I want to place these key sectors at the heart of our efforts to do so. advance skills development.
“Implementing the strategy will require investment and I will work with my colleagues in management to secure the necessary support.”
Stakeholders and the public are invited to review the proposed skills strategy and provide feedback when it is launched for public consultation.
The Minister added: ‘I want to hear from all who have an opinion on what Northern Ireland’s future skills base should look like – please join the consultation and make your voice heard on how we can deliver. better skills, better jobs and a better life. “
Members of the Ministry’s Skills Strategy Advisory Group supported and endorsed the skills strategy.
Jackie Henry, Managing Partner People and Purpose Deloitte UK and Chair of the Skills Strategy Advisory Group, continued: “As Chair of the Skills Strategy Advisory Group, I am absolutely delighted to see the consultation on the new skills strategy launched. We were delighted with the level of commitment from the Minister and the Ministry to get us to this point. I cannot stress enough how important a skilled workforce is to our economic progress. Skills will be essential to the recovery of the local economy and it is essential that the business community from all sectors have a voice in shaping this future.
Mark Huddleston, Managing Director of jheSOLUTIONS, Member of the MATRIX Scientific and Industry Committee and Vice Chairman of the Skills Advisory Group, said: “Skills are vital for individuals, communities and businesses to provide opportunities, good work and inclusive growth. The plans focus on lifelong learning and removing barriers to employment, which are essential to ensure that the breadth of talent in Northern Ireland has the maximum chance to succeed. “
Stephen Kelly, CEO of Manufacturing NI and Visiting Professor in the Department of Global Business and Enterprise at the University of Ulster, explained: “This strategy is timely and welcome as we leave Covid and our manufacturers begin to help rebuild our economy. . This takeover will be based on our most important asset recognized by all companies, our people. Rapidly improving our skills in technology, leadership and building a culture of lifelong learning will allow us to come back stronger and maintain it. The Minister and her executive colleagues share our goal of creating work and wealth and this strategy and the investments that flow from it will help our manufacturing companies make an even greater contribution to our economy and communities across Ireland from North.
Angela McGowan, Director of the Confederation of British Industry, Northern Ireland, added: “CBI research shows that nine out of ten employees will need to re-qualify by 2030. New technologies and the changing nature of our economy are transforming businesses. skills needed for many jobs, while other roles are entirely lost. As Covid-19 accelerates changes in the world of work, this new skills strategy from NI offers a unique opportunity to lead an upgrade and requalification effort to ensure sustainable livelihoods and strengthen the competitiveness of local businesses. . “
Louise Warde Hunter, Managing Director and Managing Director of Belfast Met, which hosted the launch, concluded: “I warmly welcome the consultation on the new skills strategy for Northern Ireland, ‘Skills for a 10X Economy’, in the context of the 10X economic vision. Belfast Met will play its full role in helping to achieve the ambitions of both. The FE sector is a skills engine for Northern Ireland and our learners, and the employers they will improve as ready-to-work staff, are at the heart of Northern Ireland’s economic future. “
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