Reskilling Initiatives

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment and Learning – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of David McIlveen David McIlveen DUP 2:30 pm, 9th February 2016

T5. Mr D McIlveen asked the Minister for Employment and Learning for an update on the reskilling initiatives for people who have either lost their jobs or who will lose their jobs as a result of the closures of JTI Gallaher and Michelin in Ballymena. (AQT 3465/11-16)

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

The Member will know that there was a meeting yesterday of the task force, which the council is coordinating with a view to addressing a range of different points on manufacturing and skills. Obviously, my Department plays a role within that, as do DETI and some other Departments.

Beyond the broader issues, there are particular points around JTI Gallaher and Michelin. Obviously, as the Member will appreciate, the two processes are at different points. The JTI Gallaher announcement is well advanced, and we have been investing, with my Department funding some very particular interventions around courses that are not otherwise available. Also, there have been some particular interventions around essential skills for some of the staff. The process is at a different stage with Michelin, because the 90-day consultation period on the collective redundancies has not formally come to an end. That will happen at the beginning of March. At that stage, the nature of the engagement will change gear quite significantly.

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party

Before I call Mr McIlveen to ask a supplementary, I ask him and the Minister to be reasonably brief.

Photo of David McIlveen David McIlveen DUP

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will try my very best. As we come to the dawning of the age of the Department for Employment and Learning, there is obviously an opportunity for reflection. Whilst the Minister has been very good at delivering initiatives, some may say that he has not been so successful at delivering reform. Will the Minister update the House on the reform that he is most proud of in his five years as Employment and Learning Minister?

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

This is slightly separate from the original topical question but, in one word, the apprenticeship strategy.

Some Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance

Two words.

[Laughter.]