Antrim Technical College: Status

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment and Learning – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 3rd March 2015.

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Photo of Trevor Clarke Trevor Clarke DUP 2:30 pm, 3rd March 2015

T2. Mr Clarke asked the Minister for Employment and Learning for an update on the status of Antrim Technical College, following its abandonment a couple of years ago. (AQT 2202/11-15)

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

At this stage, my understanding is that the land is still in the ownership of the Northern Regional College and is available for potential purchase. Apart from that, I am not sure whether I can say much more to the Member, though I am aware that there are some issues around the potential use of the site and some different interpretations of what should happen among the local community in Antrim.

Photo of Trevor Clarke Trevor Clarke DUP

I thank the Minister for that answer. Given the untimely pull out from Antrim a couple of years ago that left an excellent site vacant, does the Minister believe that his Department is doing enough to fill the void that has been left in post-16 education in Antrim?

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

We are very keen to ensure that we have proper coverage across Northern Ireland in access to vocational training and further education. That does not mean that we will have a college in every town, and, sadly, Antrim is one of the towns where there is no college currently. That is replicated elsewhere in Northern Ireland. However, there is provision elsewhere, particularly in Ballymena, and, as part of the emerging business case for the Northern Regional College, that will be a priority area for investment. We also have a good college in Newtownabbey. We will look to see how we can continue to invest in community-based facilities in Antrim, and if the Member has any concerns in that regard, please drop me a line and we will look at the issue in more detail.