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The sky’s the limit for Northern Ireland partnerships: Foster

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster today launched an innovative strategy to secure the future prosperity of the Northern Ireland aerospace, defence, security and space sectors.

The document entitled Northern Ireland Partnering for Growth outlines plans to more than double revenues from the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors in Northern Ireland to over £2billion per year. In doing so, it is hoped that these high-value sectors will increase direct employment from 8,000 to 12,000 in the next decade.

Speaking at the official launch in Parliament Buildings, Arlene Foster said: “Northern Ireland aerospace, defence, security and space companies not only make an important contribution to the local economy, but they also ensure the UK remains Europe’s number one aerospace manufacturer and second only to the US globally. 

“The development of this strategy is the result of successful collaboration between industry and government to identify Northern Ireland’s core industrial strengths and develop a strategic plan to maximise competitive advantage, boost jobs and increase trade opportunities.

“I welcome the emphasis that is being placed on skills development, supply chain excellence and research & development, as well as the extension of global reach. I have confidence that we will continue to make a vital contribution to sustaining UK aerospace’s position at the forefront of technology development and I look forward to seeing strong growth in the coming years.”

The development of the strategy has been led by the Council of ADS Northern Ireland, the aerospace, defence, security and space trade organisation. It has been developed in close collaboration with Invest Northern Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Department for Employment and Learning.

Also speaking at the launch Employment and Learning Minster Dr Stephen Farry said: “Improving the skills of our workforce, especially in STEM related subjects, is crucial if we are to boost productivity, increase employment levels and help grow our economy. My Department is currently taking forward initiatives to help the industry in a number of areas through the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Services Working Group such as the development of the Higher Level Apprenticeship pilots and a CNC Machining Conversion Course. We continue to work with DETI and Invest NI to make sure businesses and individuals have access to the skills they need to help Northern Ireland compete in the global marketplace.” 

David Beatty, Chairman of ADS Group in Northern Ireland commented: “Today is an important step towards making sure Northern Ireland stays ahead of the curve in these high value sectors. These industries account for 20% of our exports and with the right support we know that they will continue to bring benefits to our economy for many years to come. However, in an increasingly competitive global market, a strategic approach and a long term view are important to maximise opportunities. This partnership and resulting plan delivers that.”

Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of the ADS Group added: “Our sectors are large employers in Northern Ireland, making a significant contribution to the economy. Last week, new data released by ADS revealed the global aerospace market increased significantly in 2013, with expectations of sustained growth in the years ahead. Northern Ireland and the wider UK has an opportunity to share in the benefits of global growth and working together we can help create more high value jobs, rebalance the economy and boost our exports.”

Notes to editors:

1. The strategy sets out six strategic themes to develop the programme to achieve its ten year goals. These are: 

• Skills Development: To develop the required talent and skills to support the current and future needs of the industry;

• Supply Chain Excellence: To establish the required supply chain structure and develop the capabilities of Northern Ireland companies through supply chain excellence to increase productivity and competitiveness;

• Research and Development: To promote R&D, innovating new products, processes and services that will enable Northern Ireland to compete effectively on the world stage;

• Sales and Export Markets: To grow sales by expanding our routes to other markets with increasing emphasis on growth in the emerging markets;

•Defence and Security: To raise the sectors profile and improve awareness of business and export opportunities;

• Space Sector: To develop the Northern Ireland Space sector, identifying opportunities for business growth, specifically the opportunities in the European space programme.

2. The Northern Ireland Growth Partnership for Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space in Northern Ireland builds on the implementation work of the Aerospace Growth Partnership, as set out in the UK Aerospace Industrial Strategy; and the strategic vision for the UK Defence Sector, published by the Defence Growth Strategy. 

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