Press Release

Education Committee Urges Implementation of Report Findings to Safeguard the Future of the Northern Ireland Economy

Session: 2009/2010

Date: Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Reference: EDU 03/09/10

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Education is urging the Department of Education to take forward quickly recommendations from a report into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (‘STEM’) subjects in schools, published in September 2009. The Report, published by the STEM Review Panel says STEM subjects hold the key to the future success of the Northern Ireland economy.

The Committee for Education today sought the views of key experts on the STEM Review Report and specifically its recommendations for the Department of Education and fully endorsed the view of the STEM Review:

“As an economy, we are trading on a world stage against countries which have been pursuing the growth of STEM over an extended period of time. Our challenge is no different; we need a workforce with STEM qualifications if we are to sustain growth in our economy.”

With that challenge in mind the Committee questioned Department of Education officials on when the Department planned to action the Review’s recommendations which were published in September 2009. The Committee stressed the need to address perceived disconnected STEM activity.

Committee Chairperson, Mervyn Storey, said “The Committee today left the Department in no doubt about the need for STEM stakeholder involvement in the joint Departmental Working Group which needs to formulate an action plan quickly. The Committee also wants to see a firm timetable for progress and a deadline for sign off on the action plan, with clear target dates for implementation.”

ENDS


Notes to Editors:

1. The STEM Report was published on 30 September 2009. The Department of Education press release at that time can be found at the following link : Min Ed Press Release

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 a joint DE/DEL/ETI Committee event in February 2009 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 DE/DEL/ETI Committee event in February 2009 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.
Witnesses at Committee
IoD NI Panel

Joanne Stuart , Chairperson, Institute of Directors Northern Ireland
Clare Passmore , Matrix and STEM Review Steering Group
Sam McGuinness , Lecturer in Educational Leadership and Management, University of Ulster
Professor Roger Woods – Queens University, Belfast

Sentinus Panel

Jim Stewart, Chairman
Brian Campbell, Chief Executive
Caron Malone, STEM Ambassador
Further information about the work of Sentinus can be found at the following link: Sentinus

Department of Education senior officials
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 Jonathon Craig,
Mr Trevor Lunn MLA,
Mr John McCallister MLA,
Mr Basil McCrea MLA,
Miss Michelle McIlveen MLA,
Mr John O’Dowd MLA,
Ms Michelle O’Neill MLA,
Mr Alastair Ross 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: 028 9052 1787
Mob: 07900 053929
Fax: 028 90521371
Email: john.simmons@niassembly.gov.uk

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