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Skills vital for North West to capitalise on opportunities for 2013

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry today addressed delegates at the Golden Bridges Conference in Boston on the importance of skills for the North West to capitalise on opportunities for 2013.
Monday, 12 November 2012

The Minister was the keynote speaker at the fifth annual Boston-Northwest Ireland Golden Bridges conference 2012 held in the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Centre, Boston. The conference theme centred around 'Community, Culture and Commerce' and focused on forging transatlantic links between Boston and Londonderry specifically during the city's forthcoming City of Culture celebrations.

Referring to the recent Executive announcement of additional support for a range of economic initiatives including an increase in 500 Higher Education places, the Minister addressed conference delegates saying: "Whilst the precise allocation of the additional student places is under consideration, I have committed to allocate the largest share to the University of Ulster. However, the University of Ulster has full discretion as to the allocation of the places amongst their campuses and it is anticipated these places will go to the Magee campus. This additional investment in our Further and Higher education sectors 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.

“Derry made history in July 2010 when it was awarded the UK City of Culture designation for 2013. The world class cultural programme now in place will dramatically increase the number of visits to the city. My Department has prioritised support for the tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland. Ensuring our people have the skills necessary to make the most of this “once in a lifetime” opportunity is of prime importance. A suitably skilled workforce to welcome and facilitate our visitors can help deliver that vision in 2013.”

The Minister also presented Tom Hall, Vice President of AllState with an honourary award in recognition of his outstanding work in bringing the company to Northern Ireland. Tom Hall is vice president of Allstate, a global IT organisation which employs over six thousand people with two thousand employees based in Northern Ireland at the Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane offices.

During the two day trip, the Minister also held a series of meetings with senior Government officials including Greg Bialecki, Secretary of Economic Development where discussions centred around economic development schemes and public-private collaborations skills initiatives including the Manufacturing Days Scheme and the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative.

The Minister also held meetings with Joanne Goldstein, Secretary of Labour and Workforce Development to discuss innovative initiatives in respect of workforce training and learning, and specifically schemes such as the One Stop Careers Centres and Apprenticeships Schemes where the Minister explored potential implementation of similar projects in Northern Ireland.

Notes to editors:

  1. Media queries to the Department for Employment and Learning Press Office on 028 9025 466. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.