Sat 6th Jul 2013
Annual Lunch 2013
Above: Mark Nodder, President of NI Chamber of Commerce, Colm O’Neill CEO of BT and local sportsman and entrepreneur Eddie Irvine.
A skills system that better equips young people for the world of work will radically improve the business environment and deliver the confidence boost needed to kick-start growth – that was the message from Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce President Mark Nodder at the Chamber’s sold out Annual Lunch at Belfast City Hall on 6 June 2013.
Attended by over 400 businesspeople from across Northern Ireland, guests heard about skills from two perspectives as Mark Nodder was joined by Employment Minister Dr Stephen Farry and sportsman and entrepreneur Eddie Irvine. The former Formula 1 driver’s success on the racing track has been mirrored in more recent times by his work in the business world. Although Eddie Irvine is still involved in motor sport, he has considerable business interests in property development, the Eddie Irvine Sports facility, and as a film producer.
Speaking at the lunch, NI Chamber of Commerce President Mark Nodder said:
“The economic back drop to our lunch today is one of encouragement in global markets, but in the UK and other mature economies, we continue to struggle with public debt reduction, rebuilding the financial sector, loss of demand and unemployment and, most harmful of all, damage to business confidence.
Skills is a key element for overcoming this and also a key part of our growing something brilliant campaign to inspire businesses to grow, export and innovate. In order to grow something brilliant, businesses need staff with good basic education in the first instance as well as communication, team work and motivational skills. A focus on science, technology and enterprise skills are also very important.
Encouragingly Minister Farry is providing vitally important leadership in these key areas. The department’s current review of apprenticeships along with the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Services Working Group and the ICT Working Group all provide excellent examples of this leadership.”
Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry said:
“If Northern Ireland is to compete in the global economy, there must be a concerted effort to drive up skills – this is crucial to both the rebuilding and rebalancing of our economy. I am committed to the up-skilling of our workforce and to addressing skills shortages and mismatches, so that employers like you have the workforce they need, both now and in the future.
“I recently announced a major review of apprenticeship training with the primary aim of ensuring we provide employers with an appropriately skilled workforce. I want to put employers in the driving seat of our future apprenticeship and training schemes.
My Department cannot achieve the results we aspire to on its own – we need employers to buy into the skills agenda, who are serious about training and up-skilling their workforce and who are committed to improving skills both for their companies’ benefit and for that of the wider Northern Ireland economy. I look forward to working with you to deliver the workforce you need.”
Guest speaker at the lunch Eddie Irvine, whose keynote address took the form of an interview by the BBC’s Stephen Watson, added:
“I am delighted to attend the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Lunch. Northern Ireland has always had a rich heritage in terms of its impact on the global economy. Our country may be small but we need to continue to aim big and believe in our own ability.
Enterprising and creative people drive economic growth, and Northern Ireland certainly needs to foster higher levels of enterprise in many parts of the region.”
Guests present at the lunch also included the new Lord Mayor Mairtin