Fri 27th Mar 2015
Exporters outline key concerns to Employment and Learning Minister
Over 50 exporters from across Northern Ireland joined the Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, at a business briefing held in Belfast this morning.
The briefing, organised by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) and Danske Bank, was hosted in the surroundings of Devenish Nutrition at their Global Food Security Labs at Queen’s University, and provided exporters with an opportunity to discuss a number of business concerns directly with the Minister.
Speaking at the event, Kevin Kingston, President of NI Chamber, said:
“Today’s event enables our members to hear the inspirational export journey of the Devenish Group and how the company has grown to become such a successful local exporting company.
“It also provides businesses with a direct opportunity to engage with the Minister for Employment and Learning on a number of skill related issues impacting on their business.
“In order to complement the Minister’s ongoing work in key sectors such as engineering, manufacturing and ICT, our members believe that business degrees and further education qualifications must include compulsory modules on international trade and exports, to ensure that business people are ‘export-ready’ when entering the workplace.
“They also believe that sufficient budget should be allocated to support the development of STEM programmes and retain the Assured Skills programme which engages the FE sector to bridge the skills gaps in priority sectors such as IT, advanced engineering and financial services. Support for young people to develop sales and marketing skills is also important.
“Incentivising language training for SMEs through financial incentives would also ensure a tailored approach for businesses, so that staff can learn the relevant languages they need for conducting business abroad.”
The event was hosted by NI Chamber and Danske Bank as part of the Danske Bank Export First programme, a dynamic and unique scheme which equips local businesses with the knowledge and confidence to break into new markets for the first time or take their export activity to the next level. The programme, now in its fourth year, has resulted in the delivery of 31 events and supported 828 companies to date.
Katherine James, Head of Small Business at Danske Bank, said:
“Export has been identified as being the key vehicle for sustainable economic growth here in Northern Ireland.
“Danske Bank Export First has already raised the profile of exporting substantially among smaller companies in particular and made a significant contribution to the work of the Northern Ireland Executive and Invest Northern Ireland in the creation of a culture of exporting within the local business community.
“We look forward to working alongside Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry to equip aspiring and experienced local exporters with the knowledge and confidence to break into new markets for the first time or take their export activity to the next level.”
The Danske Bank Export First programme is also supported by its airline partner, Etihad Airways.
Pictured at the event are (L-R); Liza Hammond, Account Manager NI at Etihad Airways; Owen Brennan, Executive Chairman of Devenish Nutrition; Minister Stephen Farry; Kevin Kingston, President of NI Chamber and Katherine James, Head of Small Business at Danske Bank.