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Farry welcomes U.S delegation to Belfast Met’s e3 building

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry, today welcomed a US State Delegation to Belfast Metropolitan College’s e3 building in Springvale.
Friday, 16 November 2012

The US delegation was led by Mr Kris Balderston, US Special Representative for Global Partnerships and he was supported by Dr Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The pair were accompanied by a delegation of US companies with an interest in emerging technologies and foreign direct investment opportunities.

In his welcome the Minister said: “At no time has it been more important to put economic development at the top of our agenda, particularly in light of current economic conditions. Local companies across Northern Ireland are already reaping the benefits of the further education sector’s expertise, whether in research and development, prototyping and testing of new products or ideas, carrying out training needs analyses, offering incubation facilities or developing bespoke training solutions to improve profitability.”

The visit to the e3 facility (enterprise, employability and economic development) included a presentation from the further education sector providing an overview of business support for foreign direct investment which included the Employer Support Programme and the further education Skills Pipeline.

The Minister concluded: “The Northern Ireland further education sector is ready and able to support new businesses particularly those coming from inward investment and we have heard today about the Employer Support Programme and Skills Pipeline which clearly demonstrate this commitment. I recently visited Boston and held a series of meetings with senior government officials to continue to forge transatlantic skills, economic development and learning links. I also announced an extra 500 undergraduate places in STEM for the Higher and Further Education sectors which will continue to develop the strength of our local skilled workforce and further assist in the promotion of Northern Ireland as an attractive location for investors to do business.”

Addressing the delegation, Belfast Met Principal and Chief Executive Marie-Thérèse McGivern said: “e3 represents the very best of what we as a sector can offer in terms of stimulating enterprise, enhancing the employability of students and promoting wider economic development. We are delighted to be hosting today’s visit and welcome the opportunity to showcase the clear and critical link between the FE sector and broader business innovation and growth.”

The e3 facility which is funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), will enhance the employability skills of its students, stimulate enterprise through business incubation and delivery of innovative business development programmes, and foster enhanced approaches to economic development working closely with community partners.

Notes to editors:

1. The Employer Support Programme

The Employer Support Programme provides a dedicated fund, of approx £6million to cover the financial years 2011/12 to 2014/15, to support the further education sector’s engagement with employers. The aims of the programme are to:

  • improve the FE sector’s responsiveness, capacity, and expertise to deliver skills support to companies for research and development and innovation;
  • enhance the FE sector’s ability to provide practical support to industry, particularly in priority sectors; and
  • to support entrepreneurial activity in companies, in priority areas.

2. Skills Pipeline

  • The further education sector has recently introduced a Skills Pipeline for all its economic development related engagements with key stakeholders, including Invest NI and other key government Departments. This approach has been implemented to garner solutions and support for employers, which give cognisance of best practice, across the six FE colleges.
  • The Skills Pipeline brokers support / solutions for employers which give cognisance of particular areas of excellence across the sector including: staff expertise; the availability of cutting edge equipment; previous performance in the particular sectoral area; and, previous successful engagement with employers. Turnaround times are focussed on the needs and demands of the employer.

3. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department for Employment and Learning Communications Branch on 028 9025 7466. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.