Employment and Learning

Part of Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 12th March 2013.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance 2:30 pm, 12th March 2013

The Executive have put in place progressive policies to enable people to go to university, if that is the appropriate pathway for them.  Those range from the freeze in tuition fees for local students at local universities to our widening participation strategy, through which we are trying to address pockets of under-representation in the profile of people who are attending university. 

It is important to remember that we have the highest participation rate of all UK regions.  Equally, however, there are people who are more suitable for other pathways.  A whole range of interventions is available.  The Member will be aware that we recently announced a major review of apprenticeships and youth training to address those who are more marginalised from the labour market.  We have now put in place our NEETs strategy, and within that there are a number of incentives for young people.  Notably, we have extended an education maintenance allowance-equivalent payment to incentivise young people attending voluntary sector courses funded through the European social fund or the collaboration and innovation fund under the NEETs strategy.  We also have the youth employment scheme. 

I believe that, on a pound-for-pound basis, we are probably doing more for young people than any jurisdiction in these islands, and we have to build on that rather than sit back and become complacent.