Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for the Economy to outline the current skills and labour shortages in Mid Ulster.
Minister for the Economy: Skills and general labour shortages are being experienced right across the UK and Northern Ireland. Particular issues are coming to the fore as the economy builds further momentum following lockdowns and the easing of other Covid related restrictions. This is impacting on many sectors including Transport; ICT; Hospitality; and Construction.
This friction in the labour market reflects a combination of particularly high demand for workers, as evidenced by recent all-time highs in the number of online job advertisements, along with our relatively low unemployment rate.
Not everywhere is going to face the same labour challenges. Whilst no official data exist on the exact shortages that exist in Mid Ulster, insights are offered from software that allows us to track the number of online job advertisements. Analysis indicates that, over the last seven months the highest number of on-line vacancies in Mid Ulster are in the fields of Science, Engineering and Production Technicians; Sales Related occupations; Caring Personal Services; and Engineering professionals.
I am well aware that manufacturing is critical to the economy of Mid Ulster with one in five employed in the sector, therefore it is not surprising to see a high demand for employees in these areas.
The development of skills in the labour market is an important aspect of my Department’s 10x vision. It is my ambition that Northern Ireland will have a workforce with the knowledge and skills to drive innovation, adapt to new ways of working and improve productivity throughout our economy.