Green Energy Skills Industry Reference Group

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly am 2:30 pm ar 3 Mehefin 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance 2:30, 3 Mehefin 2024

T9. Mr Blair asked the Minister, after welcoming him back and wishing him well, for an update on the work of the green energy skills industry reference group. (AQT 339/22-27)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

As we have said many times here, the issue of skills is huge. The big attraction, particularly for foreign investors, is our people and their skills. The biggest challenge that we currently have is how to do that. There is a range of engagement across a lot of sectors by, for example, the Skills Council and the reference group, and there is a report from Matrix on the current and future skills that are required. We continue to engage across the Department and with the various institutions that work to provide support, including businesses. The challenge is the lack of funding to support skills programmes, but we intend to work as best we can with all those advocates to provide the necessary level for our people.

Photo of John Blair John Blair Alliance

Will the September 2024 deadline for the green skills action plan be brought forward, given the urgent nature of the plan and the issue?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

We have had several reports from different groups, and we have had a lot of engagement on the matter. Our big challenge is trying to find the resource from the Department to match the ambition that exists, but there have been examples of good practice. For instance, the manufacturing sector in the mid-Ulster cluster engages with the colleges and schools to ensure that their focus is there. We need to ensure that everybody in the area of skills — schools, colleges, the Department of Education, the private sector and all those who have an interest, such as the groups that get funded through the various programmes for assisting young people — is complementing each other rather than focusing on the same area, tripping over each other and stepping on each other's toes. We want to make sure that the limited amount of money that we have goes as far as it possibly can to try to support that area of work.

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

That ends questions to the Minister for the Economy. Please take your ease for one moment.

(Mr Speaker in the Chair)