Some of Northern Ireland’s biggest companies today teamed up at Parliament Buildings to show how working along the regional Further Education Colleges, were helping drive the NI economy.
More than 100 representatives from government, industry and academia attended the Further Education showcase, sponsored by the NI Assembly’s Employment and Learning Committee and organised by Colleges NI. The showcase provided an opportunity to discuss the sector’s role and influence in rebuilding and rebalancing the economy and its impact in diverse areas including sustainability, pharmaceuticals and financial and professional services.
Entrepreneurs from EcoDepo and Walled City Brewery joined industry heavyweights Norbrook, Deloitte, Caterpillar and All State at the event to highlight how they have turned practical innovation and skills support into commercial gain.
Robin Swann, MLA and Chair of the Employment and Learning Committee said:
“On behalf of the Committee I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Colleges for putting on such an interactive showcase and to thank the business representatives who took part in the Question and Answer session. It was very interesting to hear just how much businesses are benefiting from the support they receive from the Colleges in terms of upskilling, developing new products or gaining insights into new markets.
“Today’s event highlighted the benefits of the College business engagement and showcased how the regional FE Colleges are helping to drive skills and innovation across NI for all sectors and businesses”.
Speaking at the event, Colleges NI CEO, Gerry Campbell said:
“The Further Education sector has an outstanding record of delivering tangible benefits to Northern Ireland businesses including cost savings, increased sales and access to new markets. By providing both skills support and innovative solutions for business products and processes, colleges are stepping up to the challenge of building a forward-looking economy.
“The FE sector offers a broad and diverse curriculum, an orientation towards meeting local and regional skills needs. It has developed close links with employers and offers important support local business and industry through knowledge transfer activity and bespoke training. Today is about showing the great work that is already underway, but also showing that colleges are ready to do more. The time is right for the FE Sector to assume a stronger economic role, it is only right that we are given the opportunity and support to do so.”