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

I thank Mr Flanagan for his question and his recognition of the non-story from yesterday and the weekend.  Can I give him the reassurance that the economy and job creation is the top priority for the Executive?  It is important that we acknowledge that unemployment is an issue in Northern Ireland, that we dig deeper and recognise that there are a number of elements to that and that we have particular challenges with regard to youth unemployment and long-term unemployment, but, in turn, we have put in place interventions to address those. 

Leaving aside the issues of youth unemployment, which I touched upon earlier, we have additional strands of Steps to Work, such as Step Ahead 50+, for example.  It is directed towards those people who are long-term unemployed and of a certain age.  We also have our mainstream back-to-work programme, Steps to Work.  As the Member knows, we are finalising preparations for procurement on a replacement, Steps 2 Success.  We are very keen to ensure that we improve performance even further in Northern Ireland by doing all that we can to proactively work with individuals at a personalised level to encourage them back into work and to identify opportunities for them.

North West Regional College