Economic Inactivity

Oral Answers to Questions — Enterprise, Trade and Investment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Judith Cochrane Judith Cochrane Alliance 3:15 pm, 9th February 2016

T1. Mrs Cochrane asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment whether he acknowledges that the levels of economic inactivity represent a structural problem within our economy that must be tackled. (AQT 3471/11-16)

Photo of Jonathan Bell Jonathan Bell DUP

Yes, I do. I have had tremendous support in the one year that I have been in office, and I have seen what Mr Farry did as Minister in trying to ensure that we address long-term economic inactivity. It is reducing but only by percentage points, and we want it to reduce further.

Photo of Judith Cochrane Judith Cochrane Alliance

I thank the Minister for his answer and for the fact that he acknowledges that there is an issue. What steps can be taken in the coming months to identify the financial resources to begin to implement the Executive's economic inactivity strategy that his Department co-produced with DEL?

Photo of Jonathan Bell Jonathan Bell DUP

We have been trying to ensure that that budget delivers against the strategy that we set out. The Minister for Employment and Learning had discussions with the First Minister when she was the Finance Minister, as most of us did in our Departments, and extra money was allocated directly to skills. None of us got everything that we wanted, but it was recognised that we have a wonderful opportunity in front of us.

Minister Farry was with me in the States when we went to a number of specific companies to look at what we can do together to address economic inactivity. He is doing excellent work in bespoke training for companies. The training is taken through, and the person has only to be interviewed by the client at the end, and they are delivering real success. That is the right model: go with the business model and then back it up with training. In a new Department for the Economy, we will try to align the skills to factor in the jobs that we can and will have.