Speaking at the La Mon Hotel today (Saturday), Mr Farry highlighted Alliance in action in his department, including long-term freezing of tuition fees, the largest increase in university STEM places – science, technology, engineering and maths – and Northern Ireland’s first Higher Education Strategy.
Focusing on Apprenticeships and Youth Training, the North Down MLA said he hoped to be in a position to finalise the way forward before the summer, rolling out the new system over the next two years.
He said: “The implementation of these reviews will radically transform the local skills landscape, upgrade and modernise our system of vocational training, and provide a seamless transition between school and the world of work or higher education. The changes are good for society and good for business.
“Our current proposals will result in apprenticeships becoming offered across a much wider range of occupations, and available at much higher skill levels. Already my work has resulted in new apprenticeships being delivered in the finance, advanced manufacturing and ICT sectors – this is just the start of things to come.
“For the first time apprenticeships will be expanded to include professional and technical occupations within the public sector.
“For too long, apprenticeships have been promoted as the ‘next best alterative’ – this will change. A central support service will be introduced to promote and support apprenticeship provision, engaging with employers and potential participantsproviding advice and guidance and encouraging participation.
“This is Alliance in action – working to support the needs of the economy, while investing in the needs of the individual. I hope to finalise the way forward before the summer, and to roll out our new system over the next two years.”
Turning his attention to Europe, Stephen Farry MLA added that we need to change the parameters of the debate on Europe, with Anna Lo MLA the best person to reframe that debate.