The Northern Ireland Employment and Skills Advisory Group has been established to support the Adviser in his role in providing evidence-based employment and skills advice to the Minister for Employment and Learning and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. This will help ensure the business interests of Northern Ireland are represented both locally and nationally.
The Group, which is an independent body, the Northern Ireland Adviser on Employment and Skills, and includes representatives of: employers; education and skills providers; the workforce; as well as international expertise.
The strategic aims of the group for advising government on the employment and skills challenges facing the Northern Ireland economy are to:
- provide advice on a more accessible employment and skills system, that is demand led, more responsive and supports the needs of employers and individuals;
- encourage sustained employer engagement and investment in developing and utilising skills in their workplace;
- improve the opportunities for individuals, both within and outside the workplace, to raise their skills and enhance their employability;
- develop and champion best practice in the businesses and skills delivery; and
- encourage greater intergration of economic, employment, education and skills policies.
The Group established six priority areas on which to provide advice, the first three of which will be taken forward by March 2010. They are to provide advice on:
- increasing high performance working practives through the leadership and management of NI businesses, with a particular focus on SMEs;
- developing innovative solutions to engaging SMEs in the employment and skills arena;
- developing partnership approaches and joined up funding to match skills delivery to demand, spanning government, employers and individuals;
- intergrating employment and skills to develop innovative solutions to recover unemployed and inactive individuals into the economy;
- establishing a cogent and coherent careers service; and
- developing STEM skills to support the future growth areas in the NI economy,through joining up primary, secondary and tertiary provision.