Good news; bad news…

Not sure if this was a studied announcement, but it seems whilst Nigel Dodds is giving us the good news that there is more employment than ever: “the latest claimant count stands at 25,400, down 2,900 over the year… the unemployment rate is the second lowest among UK regions”. But Reg Empey has to report that literacy levels in Northern Ireland mean that a quarter of the potential workforce cannot read or write properly.

“The economic loss to our community by having such a huge slice of the population incapable of such basic functions, it is in my opinion a form of disability,” the minister said. “We already suffer in Northern Ireland from the lowest participation rates in the economy in this island, I believe this is merely adding to our economic loss.”

Although Nigel hardly demurs from Reg’s take, he puts it in a wider context…

It is important for all businesses here, regardless of size or sector, to recognise this and embrace innovation to increase their competitiveness in an increasingly challenging global marketplace. In short, I firmly believe that innovation means better products and services, more efficient processes and potentially increased sales and exports. In addition, it can lead to a better skilled workforce and higher paid jobs.

In other words, a rising tide lifts all boats (a term that likely arose in conjunction with measures to improve overseas trade)… Now about that public sector share of the local job pool…

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  • slug

    Unemployment being low is good but the real figure to watch is the employment rate, which is less subject to definition issues.

    This was a really poor area for NI with figures in the mid 60%s until recently.

    This rate increased by 1% in the last year to 70.5%, taking us through the psychologically important 70% barrier for the first time.

    The UK average is 74.3% so we are certainly within striking distance of that.

  • willis

    Mick

    Glad you filed this under “Education” as it is probably worth having a discussion on the education story of the day:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6660537.stm

    Still this quote

    “The economic loss to our community by having such a huge slice of the population incapable of such basic functions, it is in my opinion a form of disability,”
    may help us to understand why Reg’s opinion is not sought very widely.

    “Disability is the inability to obtain and retain employment as a result of a compensable injury.”

    http://www.uth.tmc.edu/safety/risk/definitions.htm

    Who precisely will be providing compensation?

  • Bill

    “a quarter of the potential workforce cannot read or write properly.”

    Remember that phrase when we are told that we have the greatest education system due to the high number of A recorded.