Stephen Farry stated: “Alliance has been a longstanding advocate of a rationalisation and reduction of the number of government departments. We supported moving to eight departments in our Assembly manifesto, including a single Department of the Economy.
“This is more than a money-saving exercise. It is fundamentally about finding a more coherent approach to policy formulation and service delivery, and creating the best linkages between the various levers available to ministers.
“At present, the Department for Employment and Learning is a strong, united organisation based around a clear agenda of upskilling the workforce, investing in training, and sustaining jobs. All of the key components of the Department work collectively towards these objectives. Looking to the future, the most logical development is to build on the already good work with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and InvestNI to build a single overarching economic department bringing all the key economic drivers under one roof.
“A stand alone rationalisation of the Department for Employment and Learning risked creating arbitrary and counterproductive division between key aspects of the skills agenda. This would have undermined our economic transformation at a critical time.
“By contrast, examining DEL in the context of a wider review of Departments holds out the much greater prospect of a rounded and balanced outcome, including a Department of the Economy.
“Alliance will continue to engage constructively in the Review of Departments and reaching an outcome that works for the economy and works for Northern Ireland.”