Sat 6th Jul 2013
In Camera: DEL Minister Outlines Challenges Ahead To NI Business Community
Pictured left to right: Sam Humphires of event Sponsor USEL, Minister Danny Kennedy and Chamber President Francis Martin
The Minister for Employment and Learning, Danny Kennedy, met members of Northern Ireland’s business community on the evening of 2 March 2011 during one of a series of ‘In-Camera’ events organised by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce.
The event took place against the backdrop of proposed budget reductions at the Department and provided Chamber members with the opportunity to engage with the Minister in a face-to-face environment. Discussion surrounded training and education opportunities as well as the potential effects of budget reductions in third level education for the Northern Ireland economy.
Francis Martin, President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said: “The event provided an informal forum for the Minister to meet with members of the business community, exchange views on issues pertinent to the Department for Employment and Learning and to hear how the Minister intends to tackle future challenges. Chamber members expressed widespread concern about potential budget reductions in third level education and the impact this might have on the potential of Northern Ireland’s future business leaders.
“Too many companies in Northern Ireland are having difficulties recruiting employees of the required calibre. Considering the current high levels of unemployment, urgent steps must be taken to ensure correct training opportunities are in place. It is absolutely vital that our universities and regional colleges of further and higher education place a strong focus on, and widen participation in, the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to produce graduates and potential employees of international standard,” he added.
The Minister for Employment and Learning, Danny Kennedy, commented: “The draft budget proposals for my Department would indicate that the higher education sector is facing a challenging time ahead. My officials and I are working tirelessly with universities and regional colleges to ensure that the impact of any reductions are minimised. We are extremely proud of the reputation for excellence which third level education in Northern Ireland has developed and I am confident that courses and training being provided will continue to meet the needs of the 21st century.
“It is important that strong, mutually-beneficial partnerships are formed between the education sector and business community to ensure that our third level education offer meets the needs and aspirations of employers. This event with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce was a very worthwhile exercise, providing the perfect platform for an informed question and answer session,” added the Minister.
The dinner was the third in a series of in-camera events which are being hosted by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce throughout 2011, with Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, and Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster, appearing as guests earlier this year.