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O'Dowd: Career choices essential to future economy

Education Minister, John ODowd, today opened the West Belfast Business Education Partnership Careers Convention at the Balmoral Hotel.
Thursday, 31 January 2013

Speaking following the visit, the Minister said: “Choosing a career path can be a difficult choice, it is therefore essential that our young people know what is available to them and are provided with sufficient help and support to aid their decision-making process.  Careers Conventions such as this, give students the opportunity to speak directly to local employers, higher and further education institutions and training organisations, to gather information and help them make informed decisions on the direction they wish to go.”

The annual event is organised by the West Belfast Business Education Partnership (BEP) and is funded by the Department of Education (DE).  The event will bring over 50 employers and representatives from further and higher education and training organisations to meet with an estimated 1350 students from nine post-primary schools in the West Belfast Area Learning Community.

Continuing the Minister said: “A well-educated and highly skilled workforce is crucial to our future economy.  With job growth coming from different occupations and in different areas, there is a need for new skills and the need to build on existing skills.  Careers Conventions give young people an insight into what the needs of business are and how they the student can help fulfil those needs.”

DE currently funds 13 BEPs across the north to run a variety of employability, enterprise and career-type events.  A main benefit for funding BEPs is that it enables local teachers to develop and deliver employability and enterprise projects to meet the specific needs of their pupils in the local community.

In conclusion, the Minister commented on the important role the Entitlement Framework will play in ensuring that young people have access to a wider range of courses.  He said: “From September this year, young people have the legal right to access a wider range of courses that will help equip them with the skills and qualifications they need.  I will soon be launching an information leaflet for parents and pupils which will help them understand what the Entitlement Framework means and how they can benefit from it.  Careers education, information, advice and guidance is essential for our young people particularly given the wide range of courses on offer under the Entitlement Framework.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Business Education Partnerships (BEPs) are voluntary bodies, made up of staff from local schools from a particular geographic area, together with staff from local employers and members of the business and wider community.
  2. BEPs aim to develop and facilitate business education activities, aligned to the revised curriculum and to develop a range of pupils’ skills including employability and enterprise.
  3. Individuals working in BEPs do so on a voluntary basis and do not receive any remuneration for this.
  4. The Department of Education provided a grant of £22,300 to West Belfast Business Education Partnership in 2012 to run a number of programmes of which the Careers Convention is one.
  5. The work of BEPs complements the regional generic enterprise and employability programmes offered by the likes of Young Enterprise to pupils across the north.  This delivery framework provides the most economical and beneficial business education opportunities for pupils given the current difficult economic climate and has proven successful to date.
  6. Further information on the Entitlement Framework can be found at the NI Direct website
  7. The Department of Education has launched a new ‘Education Works’ advertising campaign. The campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. Watch out for the ads on television, radio and outdoor locations. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit nidirect website for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel.
  8. View photos from the Department of Education in our Flickr collection.
  9. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9701. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.