Question Time - Employment and Learning Monday 13 April 2015

The Employment and Learning Minister was asked for his assessment of the impact of a reduction in the rate of corporation tax to 12.5% would have on the level of employment in Northern Ireland by Paul Givan MLA at the start of Oral Question Time. The Minister stated that "recent estimates by the Ulster University's economic policy centre show that a reduction to 12·5% from April 2017 could lead to an increase in employment of 38,000 jobs by 2033 compared with today. To prepare for such a lower corporation tax environment, I commissioned research that considered the impact that a lower rate would have on the demand for skills, labour and innovation capacity. That research set out the importance of developing our skills base and the employability of our people in a lower corporation tax environment and highlighted in particular the importance of strong skills in STEM, management and leadership, and literacy, numeracy and employability if we are to capture the full benefits of a lower rate".

The Employment Minister was also asked questions on the recent difficulties surrounding applications to the European social fund and what support his department intends to provide to the 220 people who will lose their jobs as a result of this. The Minister said " this is an open, competitive process for funding; no organisation was guaranteed funding as part of this process. Those organisations that had funding under the previous rounds were not guaranteed a continuation of funding; fresh applications were being made. Every organisation had its application assessed on its merits, and a rank order developed in that regard. As part of that process, some organisations will gain and some will lose. Sadly, there will be occasions where jobs are lost if organisations feel that that is the only path open to them".

During Topical Questions the Minister was asked for his assessment of the success of the Assured Skills programme, an update on the implementation of the apprenticeship strategy and his work to ensure parity to esteem for vocational training in Northern Ireland and whether his Department will consider holding a jobs fair in the Dungannon district, particularly in the Killeeshil community centre, which is in the heartland of a rural area that has experienced high levels of immigration.

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