Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Drive to prepare students for work

A seminar that discussed how Northern Ireland's workforce can develop through the economic downturn was held at Stormont

Business leaders and college chiefs have met to discuss ways to help Northern Ireland's workforce weather the economic storm.

The seminar at Stormont was arranged to let both sectors forge relationships and ensure students learn the specific skills required for the modern workplace.

The event in the Long Gallery of Parliament Buildings was hosted by the Committee for Employment and Learning.

Executives from Coca-Cola, Ryobi aluminium and B9 Energy windfarms were among the speakers who addressed the 90 invited guests.

Chair of the committee Dolores Kelly said the meeting was an important initiative.

"In the current climate, and the probable cuts to the Executive budget, we need to be much more focused on making the most of public investment," said the SDLP member.

"We cannot afford to have a workforce that is not highly skilled, highly motivated and highly employable, with well developed transferable skills.

"I believe that our colleges have a key role to play. Not only are they instrumental in providing targeted training, they are working to equip our young people with skills needed to succeed in new sectors, such as renewable energy."

As well as its work with colleges and businesses, the committee has conducted an inquiry into those people who are not in education, employment or training, so-called NEETs.

Members hope many of the recommendations in the forthcoming report will be implemented by DEL minister Sir Reg Empey.

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