Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened in public session at 10.13 am.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Chairperson’s Business

  • The Chairperson informed Members of the presentation given on 13 November 2012 in the Senate Chamber by Dr Steve Myers on his work with CERN and the discovery of the Higgs boson and advised that Dr Myers had invited the Committee to visit CERN.

Agreed:The Committee agreed to commission the Assembly Research and Information Service to provide a paper on the efficacy of the Committee visiting CERN.

  • The Committee considered sending Christmas Cards to key stakeholders.

Agreed:The Committee agreed to send e-cards and to consider a list of organisations for approval at next week’s meeting. 

  • The Chairperson proposed that, as part of its Inquiry, the Committee should invite Watson Co. Chartered Marketing and Apple Recruitment to provide evidence to the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the organisations inviting them to provide evidence to the Committee.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 24 October 2012

Agreed: The minutes of the meeting were agreed.

4. Matters arising

  • The Committee noted a list of matters arising from the previous meeting.
  • The Committee considered a response from UCAS regarding the Republic of Ireland’s Central Applications Office Admissions Criteria.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

10.17 am Mr Hilditch joined the meeting.

  • The Committee considered correspondence from Unison, the Department for Employment and Learning and the University of Ulster relating to on-going issues regarding staff outsourcing.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.

5. Ministerial briefing on the Review of Employment Law in Northern Ireland

Representatives joined the meeting at 10.19 am.

The Chairperson informed Members that the Committee’s request for Hansard to record the briefing sessions had been declined.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Director General of the Assembly Secretariat expressing the its disappointment at the decision.

The Committee was briefed by Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning and Mr Tom Evans, Deputy Director of Strategy, European and Employment Relations Division on the review of Employment Law in Northern Ireland.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

10.26 am Mr Anderson joined the meeting.

10.31 am Mr Lyttle joined the meeting.

The Minister agreed to provide further information on a range of issues as follows:

  • A table of changes made to employment law over the last 3 decades.

10.46 am Mr Ramsey left the meeting.

  • A paper on the Department’s pilot project on working time.

10.55 am Mr Ramsey rejoined the meeting.

  • A paper on pre-hearing deposits for tribunals including the number of times they have been used by applicants and respondents.
  • A timetable for the work leading to the introduction of changes to Employment law.
  • A timetable for the introduction of early resolution projects to be undertaken by the Labour Relations Agency which were outlined in the Minister’s Statement.

Agreed:    The Committee agreed to commission Assembly Research and Information Service to provide a paper on Employment Law.

Representatives left the meeting at 11.06 am.

6. Ministerial briefing on the New Employment Programme

Representatives joined the meeting at 11.06 am.

The Committee was briefed by Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning, Mr Colum Boyle, Director of Employment Services and Mr Brendan McCann, Head of the New Employment Team on the New Employment Programme.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

The Minister agreed to provide further information on a range of issues as follows:

  • A written briefing paper on the key points of the Minister’s statement.
  • Information on issues relating to periods of short-term employment and delays when returning to benefits.
  • A copy of the responses to the consultation.

Representatives left the meeting at 11.38 am.

7. Briefing from the Minister for Employment and Learning on Economic Measures

Representatives joined the meeting at 11.38 am.

The Committee was briefed by Dr Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning, Mr Colum Boyle, Director of Employment Services, Mr John Smith, Director of Finance and Mr Colin Jack, Director of Strategy, European and Employment Relations Division on the recently announced Economic Measures.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

11.49 am Mr Ramsey left the meeting.

The Minister agreed to provide a breakdown of the new economic measures to be introduced by his Department and details of the resources and funding streams for the measures in the current Comprehensive Spending Review accompanied by an explanatory note.

12.11 pm Mr Hilditch left the meeting.

12.11 pm Mr Buchanan left the meeting.

12.12 pm Mr Lyttle left the meeting.

Representatives left the meeting at 12.13 pm.

8. Briefing from Assembly Research and Information Service on the European Commission Annual Legislative Work Programmes for 2012 and 2013

The representative joined the meeting at 12.13 pm.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Eoin Murphy of Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service on European Commission Annual Legislative Work Programmes for 2012 and 2013.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

The Assembly Researcher agreed to provide a paper outlining differences in how unemployment figures are formulated across Europe.

12.16 pm Mr Hilditch rejoined the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department providing it with a copy of the research paper.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Committee for Regional Development providing them with a copy of the communication from the Commission on the Commission’s Work Programme 2013 for information.

The representatives left the meeting at 12.30 pm.

9. Briefing by the European Thematic Officer from Brussels on European Issues

The representatives joined the meeting at 12.30 pm.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Gordon Brown, Barroso Taskforce Working Group Competiveness and Employment Thematic Group Desk Officer on European Issues (via video-link from Brussels) and Mr Colin Jack, Director of Strategy, European and Employment Relations Division.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

The Department agreed to provide further information on a range of issues as follows:

  • A copy of the Thematic Officer’s paper to the Department’s Thematic Group when it is finalised.
  • An outline of the Department’s strategy for developing relationships with other Member States and what progress has been made to date.
  • A paper regarding what plans the Department has for youth initiatives as outlined in the Commission’s Work Programme 2013.
  • Information on how the Department intends to action the ideas and suggestions received from the Thematic Officer in Brussels.

The representatives left the meeting at 12.56 pm.

12.56 pm Mr Allister left the meeting.

10.  Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered SR 2012 No. 398, The Education (Student Support) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed: 

 “That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2012 No. 398, The Education (Student Support) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, and subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rule’s report, has no objection to the rule.”

11.  Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • Departmental response on the Employment Programme Consultation Briefing and the Youth Employment Scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • Response from the European Commission to a request for Mrs Mary McAleese to brief the Committee on the work of the EU High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing in the New Year.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment providing a scoping study Delivering a Prosperity Process: Opportunities in North/South Public Service Provision.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the document and forward to the Department for comment.

  • Departmental response regarding the freeze on tuition fees and the protection of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) budget.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider this issue at next week’s meeting.

  • Departmental response to a request for additional information on the Learner Access and Engagement (LAE) Programme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • Departmental response to a request for additional information regarding the Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance Inquiry.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and include as part of the Inquiry.

  • Departmental response to a request for information on money received under the Barnett Consequentials for youth contracts.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.

  • Departmental response to a Committee for Social Development research paper on Mapping Poverty and Social Deprivation, Executive and Departmental Strategies, Policies and Programmes in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence and forward it to the Committee for Social Development.

  • Departmental response to an Assembly Research and Information Service (RaISE) paper on the Central Applications Office (CAO) in the Republic of Ireland admissions criteria.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department for a copy of the report into admissions criteria for students from Northern Ireland wishing to study in the Republic of Ireland when available.

  • Southern Regional College response to a request for additional information following the briefing on 17 October 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Queen’s University, Belfast press release advising that it has secured £32 million funding to help find cures for eye disease and diabetes.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to Queen’s University congratulating it on the secured funding and requesting further information.

  • Request from Living and Learning Together Project to brief the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing in the New Year.

  • Correspondence from Mr David McNarry MLA highlighting the difficulties experienced by a constituent in the implementation of the Steps to Work Programme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and forward to the Department for comment.

  • Correspondence from Queen’s University, Belfast thanking the Committee for hosting a lunch to mark the University’s recent achievements.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Departmental response on the European Union press release on the Erasmus Project and its budget.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Departmental response regarding the reclassification of colleges to Non-Departmental Public Bodies.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department seeking information on why it is not following the approach taken in Great Britain by opposing the reclassification of Further Education Colleges to Non-Departmental Public Bodies.

  • Response from South Eastern Regional College relating to a complaint made regarding the provision of basic education training.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Response from the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment regarding the department’s policy on supporting business.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and forward it to the Southern Regional College for information.

  • Departmental response regarding the Research Agenda 2012 -2015.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department requesting an oral or written overview on each Quarterly Report when received.

  • Department of Education response regarding additional information on the Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance Inquiry.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and include as part of the Inquiry.

  • Departmental regular update on apprenticeships - position at 1 November 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Response from Northern Regional College regarding a complaint about the college’s enrolment practices and procedures.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and forward it to Mr Leslie Cree MLA for information.

  • Correspondence from an individual raising concerns over the student loan threshold for Northern Ireland students studying in England, Scotland and Wales.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and forward it to the Department for comment.

  • Departmental response to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety request for information on Health Inequalities in Early Years.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and forward it to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety for information.

  • Departmental response regarding the Programme for Government headline target of moving people from welfare into employment.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and schedule a briefing in the New Year.

  • Correspondence from a member of the public regarding teaching qualifications.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence and forward it to the Department for comment.

  • Invitation from the South Eastern Regional College to attend the ‘Getting the edge’ initiative awards ceremony in the Lisburn Campus of the College on 14 November 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the invitation.

  • Invitation from the European Parliament Information Office to attend a conference on the future of European Union funding in Northern Ireland in the Europa Hotel, Belfast on 16 November 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the invitation.

  • Invitation from the Department for Employment and Learning to attend the dissemination event for the ESF Learning Network on Empowerment and Inclusion in the Wellington Park Hotel on 27/28 November 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the invitation.

  • Departmental response regarding Learner Access and Engagement Programme procurement. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Departmental correspondence advising the Committee that the Minister has approved the introduction of a new employment strand for long-term unemployed young people within the Steps to Work employment programme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Invitation from the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland for the Chairperson to attend the Director of the Year Awards lunch in the Merchant Hotel, Belfast on 30 November 2012.  

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the invitation.

  • Invitation from Advice NI to its Annual General Meeting ‘Welfare Reform – Getting It Right for Northern Ireland’ in the Templepatrick Hotel on 30 November 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the invitation.

12. Draft Forward Work Programme

  • The Committee considered the draft Forward Work Programme up to 20 February 2013.

 

13.  Any Other Business

None.

14.  Date, time and place of next meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the next meeting should be held on Wednesday, 21 November 2012, at 10.00 am in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.03 pm.

Mr Basil McCrea
Chairperson, Committee for Employment & Learning
21 November 2012

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