Skills training must match employer needs if Northern Ireland is to recover from the recession, according to Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry.
He was speaking recently at a prestigious ceremony held in |Parliament Buildings to announce the winners of the National Training Awards regional heat.
The top four will now go head to head with the UK’s best at the competition’s national final later this year.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Farry said: “Northern Ireland has a long tradition of excellence at the National Training Awards, and once more our organisations and individuals have demonstrated great vision and innovation in |addressing workforce development.
“Tonight’s winners have shown a commitment to raising individual and collective skills levels which will stand them in great stead in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
“The vision outlined in my |department’s Skills Strategy is for a dynamic and innovative economy, driven by a highly-skilled and well managed workforce.
“For this vision to be realised, we must create a culture of learning and development which is tailored to the needs of employers and will drive our economy forward.”
The National Training Awards, which are organised by the Department for Employment and Learning, recognises and rewards excellence in training. The rigorous judging process involved in selecting the winners each year, which results in winners receiving recognition on a UK scale, is what sets these awards apart from all others.
The four regional winners for 2011 from Northern Ireland are:
The minister concluded: “I urge businesses, organisations and individuals across Northern Ireland to equip themselves with the skills which are both relevant to |the workforce of the future and which will meet our business needs.
“Our ability to meet the economic challenges which lie ahead will depend on it.”
The award ceremony was hosted by presenter Claire McCollum and the four regional winners will now go on to represent Northern Ireland at the National Training Awards Winners of the Year ceremony in London on Wednesday, October 5.
The National Training Awards were introduced in Northern |Ireland for the first time in 1986, and have gone on to provide a mechanism for rewarding and promoting employers, individuals, partnerships and training organisations who have achieved outstanding success in the application of training. The competition is organised and promoted by the Department for Employment and Learning in association with UK Skills.
The award categories include Small Employer (up to 49 employees), Medium Employer (50-249 employees), Large Employer (250-999 employees), and Macro Employer (1,000+ employees).
The awards allow the best of Northern Ireland’s businesses and people to showcase their achievements and benchmark their successes against firms and bodies of all types.
In a change to the criteria this year, entrants had to possess current Investors in People status, unless the company employs 20 people or fewer.