Ministers Announce Consultation On New Strategic Framework To Tackle Economic Inactivity In Northern Ireland

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry and Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster MLA, have today launched a joint public consultation on a new strategic framework to tackle economic inactivity in Northern Ireland.

Economic inactivity refers to those people neither in work nor unemployed and Northern Ireland currently has the highest rate of economic inactivity in the UK at 27.4%.dn_screen

Minister Farry said: “The joint consultation paper being launched today sets out a new strategic framework to tackle the high levels of economic inactivity in Northern Ireland. The strategic framework is focused around several key themes, from increasing engagement and support for individuals to access government services more easily, to increasing job opportunities, addressing wider barriers and helping break the cycle of inactivity by doing more to help those most at risk of disengaging from the labour market.”

The Minister encouraged all interested parties to put forward their views on the proposals, saying: “High levels of economic inactivity have been a persistent feature of our local economy for over 30 years and we need to work collaboratively and smarter to tackle the problem and to help support individuals back into the labour market. I would therefore strongly encourage all interested parties to take this opportunity to read the strategic framework and the consultation document and submit your thoughts and proposals to us. The consultation will run for 12 weeks until 17 April 2014 and the findings from the consultation period will be integral in shaping the final strategy, including its implementation, delivery and management.”

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster added: “The Strategic Framework being launched today will play an important part in the Executive’s drive to rebalance and rebuild the Northern Ireland economy.

“For many years, high levels of economic inactivity have been a persistent feature of the local economy. Our economic inactivity rate stands at 27.4%, compared to a UK average of 22.2% and asignificant reduction in this level is vital to achieving the aims of our Economic Strategy.

“I recognise that the scale of this challenge cannot be underestimated and this will certainly require a partnership approach. We need to develop new ways of encouraging more people into employment by developing incentives, working with employers, and creating training and employment opportunities.

“I therefore look forward to hearing the views of stakeholders on the direction and objectives of this new Strategic Framework.”