Never mind Bill Clinton saying, ‘it’s the economy, stupid’, the answers to Northern Ireland’s difficulties are instead perhaps Tony Blair’s mantra, ‘education, education, education’. In fact, the main way to tackle the economic problems of Northern Ireland are arguably to focus on education and skills.
Seamus McGuinness, research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, discusses the weaknesses of Northern Ireland’s education and skills system in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast. Although ESRI is based in Dublin, Seamus is an expert on the labour market in the North.
Seamus is particularly concerned at the impact of academic selection on the aspirations of pupils from working class backgrounds and how alienation from schooling affects joblessness over the longer-term. He discusses the role of further education colleges, arguing that the shortage of high level vocational skills is a specific and serious problem for Northern Ireland that must be addressed as a priority.
The brain drain out of Northern Ireland is also discussed. The interview can be heard here.
The Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts are funded by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant Scheme.
Disclaimer: This project has received support from the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council which aims to promote a pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and recognition of interdependence. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Community Relations Council.
Paul Gosling is editor of ‘Lessons from the Troubles and an Unsettled Peace’, author of ‘A New Ireland’ and ‘The Fall of the Ethical Bank’ and co-author of ‘Abuse of Trust’, the story of a child abuse scandal in Leicestershire. He is engaged by the Holywell Trust charity on peace and reconciliation projects.