Sat 6th Jul 2013
Farry launches ICT Skills Taskforce
Above: Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning Employment hosted the first meeting of the ICT Skills Taskforce at the NI Science Park with [l to r] Nigel Smyth, CBI Northern Ireland, Iain O’Kane, MD of Xperience and NI Chamber of Commerce representative and David Mawhinney, MD of ICS Equinity.
Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry hosted the first meeting of the ICT Skills Taskforce on 12 January 2012 to discuss current and future skills issues facing the ICT sector in Northern Ireland.
The Minister has brought together business leaders including Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, employer representatives, government officials and representatives from local colleges and universities to consider how the current and future skills needs for the sector can be addressed.
Dr Farry said: “I have convened this group to clearly identify the key issues that need to be addressed in order to ensure that we have appropriately skilled people to meet the needs of potential investors, and local companies, in this growing and exciting sector.
“It is vital that we ensure that supply and demand is in balance, as an absence of either leads to wasted resources and/or opportunities. The Taskforce will to agree a coordinated approach that ensures that we have enough people available, with the skills necessary, to grow and enhance the ICT sector.”
The group will agree a coordinated approach to assess the ICT sector’s current skills needs; to understand issues relating to the quality of education and training provision; and agree that all parties would work together in addressing the skills and quality issues for the short, medium and long term.
Local employer, David Mawhinney, Managing Director of ICS Equinity, highlighted the work that was ongoing to raise the profile of the sector and encourage people to consider it as a career option. He said: “Government and employers have been working together to draw attention to career paths within the sector through the ‘Bring IT On’ campaign.
“We have a number of globally successful companies located in Northern Ireland, and with a high number of spin out companies expanding. However employers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit suitable staff. The setting up of this Taskforce is a very important step in ensuring we have a workforce that can make the most of the opportunities available to us, as a sector.”
Minister Farry asked for an ICT Working Group to be set up which he will chair to complement the action his Department and Invest NI taking in the ICT sector to address skills and education issues expressed by the ICT business community.