Mr Farry answered questions on initiatives for young people not in work or education, the Steps to Success procurement exercise and developing the research base in local universities.
The Minister also answered questions on youth training in Denmark and the Southern Regional College.
Michelle McIlveen and Pat Ramsey both asked questions regarding NEETs funding. The Minister replied " The Executive's Pathways to Success strategy for young people not in employment, education or training introduced a number of initiatives to meet the wide-ranging needs of young people, including those in this category.
The collaboration and innovation fund supports five projects with a budget of almost £2 million that target care-experienced young people. DEL's local employment intermediary service (LEMIS) is also available on an outreach basis to individuals with a common employability barrier, including care leavers.
During the 2013-14 financial year, LEMIS providers received just over £2 million to deliver the service, and a similar budget is available this year. The European social fund is providing £2·2 million in 2014-15 for three projects that target care-experienced young participants but are not exclusive to them. The Member will be aware that the policy lead for work with looked-after children lies with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS)".
Steps 2 Success was the next topic that the minister had to deal with when Feargal McKinney asked the Minister for an update on the Steps 2 success procurement exercise. The Minister stated "Steps 2 Success is my Department’s main programme for assisting unemployed and economically inactive people to find and keep work. Steps 2 Success builds on the success of Steps to Work and will increase the flexibility to develop an individually designed programme to prepare participants to find employment. The procurement of Steps 2 Success is being carried out by my Department in conjunction with the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) of the Department of Finance and Personnel.
The procurement is in two stages. Stage 1 was completed in November 2013, selecting six organisations to bid to deliver the programme in each of three contract areas. Subsequently, one organisation withdrew in the southern contract area. After discussion with the Central Procurement Directorate, it was agreed to proceed with the competition in the southern contract area with five bidding organisations.
During the 15 minutes of topical questions the Minister answered question on the Belfast Metropolitan College: Millfield Stabbing and Universities: Neutral Environment.