The first meeting of the Council’s Mid Ulster Skills Forum took place this week to tackle employability and skills issues in the district.
The first meeting was attended by business representatives from Mid Ulster’s key local sectors, elected members, government agencies and government departments.
Following consultation with businesses and communities, the issue of employability and skills was one of the key priorities to emerge from the new Community Plan for Mid Ulster. It was also identified as a key theme within the Council’s Economic Development Plan 2015-20.
Mid Ulster District Council is the most entrepreneurial region in Northern Ireland in terms of business start-ups and has the largest business base outside Belfast with 7,915 businesses.
The Council recognises that one of the key drivers of strong and sustained economic growth is the availability of a high performing workforce, appropriately equipped with the right skills to meet the current and future needs of local industry’s key sectors.
The main aims of the forum are to maximise the potential for economic growth and enhance the area’s competitiveness, support and encourage entrepreneurship, promote stronger alignment between employment, training and economic development in the local area, and to ensure that learning and skills directly contribute to employment, growth and economic success for local residents and businesses.
The Chair of Mid Ulster District Council. Councillor Trevor Wilson, believes the forum will have a positive impact on the district. He said, “One of the key drivers of strong and sustained economic growth is the availability of a high performing workforce, appropriately equipped with the right skills to meet the current and future needs of local industry.
“By bringing together all those with an interest in driving growth, speaking as one voice; local businesses, educational providers and sectoral bodies acting as one force, for a positive and prosperous future for the area, the new Skills Forum will do just that.”
Alan McKeown from Dunbia who participated in the forum added, “I commend Mid Ulster District Council on the launch of its Skills Forum, which is another great example of the Council following through on the commitments it has made in its economic development strategy.
“As one of the largest employers in the Mid Ulster district, Dunbia already collaborates with a number of local education and training partners to develop skills in our people. Through this Skills Forum we see the opportunity to work alongside the Council, other employers and our education partners, to help shape the future strategy for skills development in Mid Ulster, which is vital if we are to sustain economic growth in our area.”
It is proposed that the forum will meet every two months with the next meeting scheduled to take place in early April.
For more information on the Skills Forum, contact Fiona McKeown, Head of Economic Development, Mid Ulster District Council, on, E: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 03000 132 132.