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Successful collaboration delivers for ICT Industry - Farry

Stormont Executive press release - Department for Employment and Learning

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today met with the ICT Working Group to review the implementation of the ICT Action Plan, one year on.

The review meeting involved local ICT employers, employer representative bodies, colleges, universities and Government Departments.

The Minister highlighted a number of successes over the past year: “Progress has been significant. Industry, education and government have worked closely together to support the local ICT sector address their sector specific skills issues. The success of the implementation of the Plan is highlighted by the fact that undergraduate applications to IT-related degrees at both our universities have increased by over 24%.

“There are a number of initiatives worth mentioning including the new MSc courses for non-IT graduates offered by Queen’s University and the University of Ulster. Over 100 students are enrolled on these courses with many already securing employment within the sector. A key new ‘Software and Systems Development’ A level will also be available in Northern Ireland from September 2013.

“My Department’s Assured Skills programme continues to support the growth of the ICT industry. One example is the successful Software Testers Academy, a third cohort of which will commence their training in September. Thirty-two apprentices have also been employed in the local ICT sector through an Apprenticeship Pilot Programme. A second cohort is being planned and a Higher Level Apprenticeship in ICT is being piloted with South West College that will provide a route for apprentices to progress to Foundation Degree and Degree level qualifications. Only this week I launched the Deloitte Analytics Training Academy, proving that government and our further education colleges can respond quickly to design a bespoke programme to fill a skills gap identified by business.”

The Minister concluded: “Whilst these measures demonstrate my department's proactive response to the skills needs of the ICT sector, and whilst significant progress has been made, the ICT Action Plan remains under constant review to ensure its ongoing responsiveness to the sector. Further actions will be taken forward and my Department’s current review of Apprenticeships will also be of direct relevance to the ICT sector in NI.”

David Mawhinney, Managing Director of Equiniti ICS Ltd. and Chair of the e-skills UK Employer Board, also attended the meeting and commented: "Industry, government and education and training providers have shown their willingness to collaborate in order to fully support the ICT sector in Northern Ireland. There has been a great deal of success in the last year and a full and adequate delivery of the ICT Action Plan is required to ensure that ICT sector growth is supported and continues to benefit the Northern Ireland economy as a whole."

Notes to editors:

1. The ICT Action Plan, published in June 2012, sets out the short, medium and long term actions to be taken forward collaboratively by Government Departments, Education and Business sectors. These ensure Northern Ireland has an adequately and appropriately skilled workforce to support the thriving ICT sector that is the driving force of a globally competitive economy, underpinning innovation, competitiveness and long term prosperity.

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