FARRY LAUNCHES ICT ACTION PLANadded on Wednesday, July 04 2012
Employment and Learning Minister, Dr. Stephen Farry, today published an ICT Action Plan to address future skill needs of the sector.
Minister Farry said: “If we are to realise the ICT sector’s full potential, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve the match between the skills of those people in the workforce and the skills our employers need to help our companies grow. This Plan brings together a range of actions which have been identified by employers as being central to addressing the skills needs of the ICT sector. My Department will be piloting a Higher Level Apprenticeship in ICT and exploring ways in which it can support employers in offering the likes of bursaries, scholarships and placements to students on approved courses. This builds on the work the Department is already taking forward such as a second cohort of the successful Software Testers Academy.”
The ICT sector is of critical importance to the growth of the Northern Ireland economy and to achieving the aims set out in the Northern Ireland Economic Strategy. Speaking in support of the ICT Action Plan, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster added: “As we continue the drive to attract high quality investors to Northern Ireland, much will depend on our ability to deliver a highly-skilled, fit-for-purpose ICT workforce. A thriving ICT sector is the driving force of a globally competitive economy, underpinning innovation, competitiveness and long term prosperity. In recognising and addressing skills needs within the sector, this Action Plan will help to enhance the quality of our IT professionals, maximise employment opportunities and give our businesses a competitive edge in the global marketplace.”
Among the actions set out in the Action Plan are initiatives to increase the number of young people choosing to study subjects and courses that are relevant to a career within the sector, an updated ‘Bring IT On’ campaign to highlight the range of attractive career opportunities available in the industry and interventions to promote alternative methods of recruitment into the ICT sector.
Minister of Education, John O’Dowd, in recognising the important role education plays in support of the ICT sector said: “Promotion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) subjects, and in particular computer science, is very important to our economic growth and prosperity and I acknowledge the critical role school based education plays in engaging pupils from an early age in seeing the relevant and exciting career opportunities open to them through ICT subjects. My Department is committed to supporting this area of the economy.”
David Mawhinney, Managing Director of Equiniti ICS Ltd. and chair of the e-skills UK Employer Board, was also present to support the launch of the ICT Action Plan 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. A full and adequate delivery of the ICT Action Plan is required to ensure that ICT sector growth is supported and benefits the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.”