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Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, has highlighted the important role that Sector Skills Councils play in creating a highly skilled workforce in Northern Ireland.

The Minister was speaking as he, and Chairman of ConstructionSkills, Sir Michael Latham, officially opened the new Belfast office of ConstructionSkills in Northern Ireland on the 4 September 2008.

The Minister said: “It is gratifying to see this important Sector Skills Council opening an office in Belfast City Centre; close to policy makers…The work of ConstructionSkills focuses on skills and training which is essential for the future of the industry. It is looking beyond the current economic situation and concentrating on the future upskilling needs of not only the present but also the future workforce.”

As the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, ConstructionSkills represents a wide range of employer views; from contractors to professional services firms. In Northern Ireland it works with employers of all sizes across the Province to determine their skills needs and with Government and stakeholders to meet those needs.

The launch of the office comes at a difficult time, with the economic downturn affecting the industry, in particular the house building sector, but findings from the Construction Skills Network research highlight that the Northern Ireland construction industry is forecast to continue to grow over the next few years. As part of its ‘Building Northern Ireland’ campaign, ConstructionSkills in Northern Ireland is focusing activity on improving the skills of the current workforce, to ensure Government can implement its plans to deliver almost £20billion of new infrastructure (including major investment in roads, schools and hospitals) over the next 10 years.

Speaking at the launch Sir Michael Latham said, “ConstructionSkills in Northern Ireland is working hard to deliver a safe, professional and fully qualified workforce and this Belfast office will provide a focus for ConstructionSkills activities across the whole of the local construction industry. The landmarks that we build here in Northern Ireland today, tomorrow, next year and in years to come will be here as our testimony long after our passing. The refreshed Sector Skills Agreement for the Northern Ireland industry is our opportunity to make sure we work with employers and help provide our workers with the right skills so they can build a lasting legacy for us all.”

For further information contact Siobhan Daly, Marketing and Communications Manager, at

To keep up to date with all the latest news on what ConstructionSkills is doing and find out more about how your company can get involved in helping secure the future of the UK construction industry register for the Skills Update

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