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Minister Farry gives keynote address at Colleges Northern Ireland conference Posted on 20/10/2015 00:00:00 Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today gave the keynote address at the ‘Further Education: key driver of the NI economy’ conference. The conference was hosted by Colleges Northern Ireland (CNI).

Minister Farry said: “The further education sector plays a pivotal role in developing a strong and vibrant economy through the development of professional and technical skills, increasingly at higher levels. 

“The theme ‘Further Education: key driver of the NI economy’ also reflects a key focus of the new strategy for further education in Northern Ireland, which is currently under development. The colleges support the wider economy by assisting employers to innovate, to design and develop new products, to bring those products to market, and to be more efficient and competitive.”

Minister Farry also outlined the importance of employers working alongside the further education colleges to design and develop high quality and economically relevant curriculum and qualifications to ensure that there is a pipeline of suitably qualified individuals at all levels to meet skills needs.

The Minister continued: “Another key role for the sector is supporting social inclusion by providing those who have low or no qualifications, or who have barriers to learning, with the skills and qualifications needed to find employment and to become economically active. The further education sector plays an important part in driving positive economic change, promoting individual opportunity and achieving greater social cohesion.

“Further education colleges also play a role in increasing participation and achievement in higher education. Indeed, the scale of the sector’s contribution to higher education delivery is demonstrated by the fact that nearly one fifth of all higher education students in Northern Ireland are studying in one of the six further education regional colleges. Higher education delivered in further education regional colleges is an integral part of the delivery of the economic vision for Northern Ireland.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Department for Employment and Learning is currently running the Skills to Succeed campaign encouraging the public and employers to find out more about the range of programmes and assistance that are available. You can find out more on nidirect: or by calling 0300 200 7876. Follow the “Skills to Succeed” campaign on Facebook at: or on LinkedIn at:

2. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department for Employment and Learning Communications Branch on 028 9025 7492. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.


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