Press Release

Assembly Committees Back Science and Technology

Session: 2008/2009

Date: Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Reference: E&L03/08/09

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Maths (STEM subjects) hold the key to the future success of the Northern Ireland economy. That’s why Members from three Assembly Statutory Committees hosted a panel discussion of STEM experts in Stormont’s Long Gallery today to identify the way forward.

The Members of the Employment & Learning, Education, and Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committees and STEM experts from industry, science, technology, schools, and further and higher education sectors all agreed that Northern Ireland’s success in an increasingly global economy will depend on significantly developing our STEM skills base. All emphasised that these skills are essential to delivering productivity, innovative products and services and offering customers value for money in a global market.

Committee Chairpersons Sue Ramsey, Mervyn Storey & Mark Durkan confirmed their commitment to driving forward the STEM agenda with a proposal to issue a joint letter reflecting the panel’s views to the Ministers of Education, Employment & Learning and Enterprise, Trade & Investment.

A representative of MATRIX (the Science and Industry Body) highlighted the need to radically build on the Executive’s targets for STEM in its Programme for Government, ‘The development of the science base is vital to delivering an innovative economy. This will create opportunities in Northern Ireland for essential higher value-added employment’.

Panel members and the invited audience of STEM stakeholders welcomed the opportunity to voice their concerns and to call for effective and immediate action following the imminent publication of the STEM Review Report; action urgently required for economic recovery in Northern Ireland.


Notes to Editors:
  1. The STEM Report is currently being finalised for submission to the Ministers for the Departments of Education and Employment and Learning. When published, the Report will identify the recommendations on the way ahead. Early indications show that effective and quick actions will require a strong partnership between Business, Government and Academia.
  2. The Republic of Ireland, Scotland and England have already set in motion STEM strategies and policies to grow the STEM skills base. Experts attending the event discussed the emergence of the developing countries, particularly the so called BRICs ( Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the increase in their STEM education which is on a very great scale and is creating well educated workforces capable of exploiting their low cost base. This could be a substantial challenge to Northern Ireland.
  3. Increasing the STEM skills base is an imperative for growth in the NI economy. It was agreed at the event that the challenge for Northern Ireland is to encourage young people to study the various STEM subjects or Northern Ireland risks having a serious shortage of STEM qualified people at all levels in its our workforce.
  4. the Programme for Government STEM Targets applicable to the three Departments (Employment & Learning, Education and Enterprise, Trade & Investment) are:
    • increase by 5% the numbers studying STEM subjects in post 16 cohort by 2011
    • By 2011, to have implemented a joint DE/DEL strategy to address the shortage of skills in science, technology and mathematics disciplines.
Panel list

Joanne Stuart , Chairperson, Institute of Directors( Chairperson of panel)
Stephen Lusty , Chairman, Engineering Policy Group (NI), Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Robin McGill , Chief Executive and Secretary, IET
Damien McDonnell , Chairman, Matrix (NI Science and Industry Panel)
Clare Passmore , Board Member, Matrix
Alan Blair , Board Member, Matrix / Association of NI Colleges (ANIC)
Sam McGuinness , Former Principal of Limavady Grammar School

Committee for Employment and Learning

The Committee Chairperson is Ms. Sue Ramsey MLA
The Deputy Chairperson is Mr. Robin Newton MLA
Committee members:
Mr. Alex Attwood MLA
Mr. Paul Butler MLA
Rev. Dr. Robert Coulter MLA
Mr. Alex Easton MLA
Mr. David Hilditch MLA
Mr. William Irwin MLA
Ms. Anna Lo MLA
Mr. David McClarty MLA
Mrs. Claire McGill MLA

The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultative role, and advises the Minister for Employment and Learning directly on the policies of the Department for Employment and Learning.

The Clerk to the Committee is Peter Hall
Committee for Employment and Learning, Rm 245, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX
Tel: 02890520379
Mob: 07825141297
Fax: 02890521433

Committee for Education

The Chairperson of the Committee is Mr Mervyn Storey MLA
The Deputy Chairperson is Mr Dominic Bradley MLA

The Committee has a further nine members:
Mrs Mary Bradley MLA
Mr Tom Elliott MLA
Mr Trevor Lunn MLA
Mr Nelson McCausland MLA
Mr Basil McCrea MLA
Miss Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr John O’Dowd MLA
Ms Michelle O’Neill MLA
Mr Edwin Poots MLA

The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultative role, and advises the Minister of Education directly on the policies of the Department of Education.

The Clerk to the Committee is John Simmons
Committee for Education, Rm 242, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX
Tel: 02890521787
Mob: 07900053929
Fax: 02890521371

Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment

The Chairperson of the Committee is Mr Mark Durkan MP MLA
The Deputy Chairperson is Ms Jennifer McCann MLA

The Committee has a further nine members:
Paul Butler MLA
Leslie Cree MLA
Simon Hamilton MLA
Alasdair McDonnell MP MLA
Alan McFarland MLA
Gerry McHugh MLA
Sean Neeson MLA
Robin Newton MLA
Jim Wells MLA

The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultative role, and advises the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment directly on the policies of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

The Clerk to the Committee is Jim McManus
Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Rm 424, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX
Tel: 02890521230
Fax: 02890521371

For further information, or to arrange an interview or photo opportunity, please contact:

Ms Debra Savage,
Northern Ireland Assembly, Press Office,
Telephone – 028 90 521405/521137
Mobile: 07920 864221
Email –

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