16 September 2014

  |  CBI Press Team


NI business leaders discuss skills and employment law issues with minister Farry

Careers advice and guidance and employment law reform were key priorities at a CBI senior executives dinner.

Issues including careers advice and guidance and the reform of employment law in Northern Ireland were key priorities at a CBI Senior Executives Dinner with Employment and Learning minister Dr Stephen Farry last night.

The event, held at the Ulster Bank Headquarters in Belfast, saw over twenty senior business leaders holding a productive discussion with the minister on subjects that also included the new employer-led apprenticeship programmes and the critical importance of the Northern Ireland Executive working to solve ongoing problems and focus on growing the economy.

Commenting after the event, the CBI Northern Ireland Chair Colin Walsh said:

“Given the relevance of his ministerial portfolio, it is crucial that the business community engage with the minister as so much of what he has responsibility for impacts on businesses day to day operation.

“We have engaged, over the last three years, very productively with the minister in terms of his reform of apprenticeships that has resulted in outcomes which industry is very supportive of, particularly the employer-led model which is to be piloted between now and 2016 before full roll out that autumn.

"The minister and business are united in the view of raising the esteem and importance of apprenticeships and bringing in new and innovative changes, such as the UCAS style portal for courses, will be a major and positive change.

“In a context in which Northern Ireland is competing globally, it is important that we have not just a competitive skills base but also a competitive employment law framework. The ongoing reform programme, from which we hope to see an Executive Bill in the New Year, will be a key determinant of our competitive standpoint in the medium term and it is crucial that we, through working with the mnister and his Executive colleagues, get it right on matters such as
protected conversations, collective redundancy and unfair dismissal.

“Added to this, and in the context of the CBI Northern Ireland report published in February on business-education links, the review of careers advice and guidance that is being conducted jointly between the minister’s Department and the Department of Education is important in making sure we address the skills opportunities for our young people in a way that better reflects the economic challenges and opportunities of the future.

"The expert panel model which the minister has spearheaded on this and other areas is hugely important in that regard and we look forward to assessing its report during the autumn months.”

Employment and Learning minister Dr Stephen Farry said:

“I welcome the continued engagement with the CBI on a range of economically important issues. The CBI’s endorsement of my Department’s new Strategy on Apprenticeships is welcomed. The new apprenticeship model will be designed to engage with businesses, by responding directly to their needs in terms of ease of access, relevant training, incentives and support.

"Apprenticeships provide an excellent means by which employers can obtain the skills that they need to grow and compete globally.

“In relation to employment law, I am committed to developing a system that works in the interests of business, helps our economy to grow, attracts investment and encourages companies to recruit new staff and, at the same time, provides sufficient protection for the rights of employees.”

Notes to Editor

Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors which together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of the private sector-employed workforce. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.

The CBI in Northern Ireland represents around 1/3 of the private sector workforce, and more than 60% of the largest employers in Northern Ireland. It is the leading business organisation influencing the policies of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.

All Media Enquiries
Anthea Savage, Communications & Events Executive, CBI Northern Ireland.
DL: 028 9010 1117; E: anthea.savage@cbi.org.uk