SDLP economy spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin has welcomed the commitment from economy minister Diane Dodds to strengthen the skills base in the North. McLaughlin has called for a ‘skills revolution’.
McLaughlin said: “Skills are at the heart of a modern economy. The sad truth is that while we have excellent skills in the North, we must do far more to ensure that people from across our society and regions have the skills needed to gain worthwhile and well paid jobs. I am relieved that the economy minister has recognised this in her latest Assembly reply to me. I hope this will lead to a ‘skills revolution’.
“Our society and our economy will be massively reshaped by the twin events of Coronavirus and the move to a zero carbon economy. The skills needed in the future will be different from those required in the past.
“Far too many people are already left behind – a reality that has badly hit parts of the North such as my constituency of Foyle, but also West and North Belfast. We have unacceptably high levels of unemployment in all these areas and others.
“The skills revolution has to begin in the classroom and I welcome the proposals in recent reports from the OECD and the Pivotal think-tank to strengthen careers guidance, in order to build aspiration across our pupil population and to encourage all pupils to acquire skills and qualifications that provide them with the foundations for good careers. We must also find pathways for skills development amongst our older working age population, both those in and out of work.
“I am very pleased that the Department for Employment is taking this on board, but delivery is only possible through cross-departmental co-operation, which departments often find very challenging.”