Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 11 January 2012

Venue: Belfast Metropolitan College, Titanic Quarter Campus, Belfast

The meeting opened in closed session at 10:11 am.

1. Briefing from Assembly Legal Service

The Committee was briefed by a representative of Assembly Legal Service on the powers available to the Committee in calling for persons and papers, and on the statutory framework between the Department for Employment and Learning and the Northern Ireland Colleges of Further Education and Universities.

10.21 am Ms Michelle Gildernew joined the meeting.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Principal of the North West Regional College requiring him to present oral evidence to the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to request him to expedite his investigation into staffing issues at the North West Regional College.

The meeting moved into public session at 10:31 am.

2. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

3. Chair’s Business

The Chairperson proposed that all items of business and discussions during meetings should be transcribed by Hansard.

10.38 am Mr Jim Allister joined the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that only appropriate items of business would be transcribed for the time being.

The Chairperson proposed that participants on the Developing and Supporting Young Business Leaders programme should be invited to brief the Committee at its next meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite these participants.

4. Minutes of the meetings held on 14 December 2011 and 5 January 2012

Agreed: The minutes of both meetings were agreed.

5. Matters arising

The Committee noted a list of matters arising from the previous meeting.

6. Briefing from the Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College

 A representative joined the meeting at 10.45 am.

The Committee was briefed by Ms Marie-Thérèse McGivern, Principal and Chief Executive, on current issues for the College.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session, when Ms McGivern agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a number of issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request the Annual Report and Accounts for the College for the year ended 31 July 2011.

11.30 am Ms Michelle Gildernew left the meeting.

11.42 am Mr David McIlveen left the meeting.

The representative left the meeting at 11.44 am.

11.44 am Mr Barry McElduff left the meeting.

The meeting was suspended for a short break at 11.45 am.

The meeting resumed at 11.53 am.

7. Briefing from the Department on the draft Programme for Government and draft Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland

 A Departmental official joined the meeting at 11.54 am.

The Committee was briefed by Mr John Smith, Director of Finance, on the draft Programme for Government and draft Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

The Departmental official left the meeting at 12.18 pm.

8. Briefing from the Department on the Employment Services Directorate

Departmental officials joined the meeting at 12.19 pm.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Colum Boyle, Director of Employment Services, and Mr Jim Russell, Assistant Director, on the work of the Employment Services Directorate.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session, when officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a number of issues.

The Departmental officials left the meeting at 12.59 pm.

9. Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • Correspondence from the Department requesting that the briefing session on the Workforce Development Fora be rescheduled.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to reschedule the briefing for a date in March 2012.

  • Correspondence from the Department responding to the Committee request for information regarding to the Child Poverty Strategy Outcomes Model.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • Correspondence from the Department regarding the link between the Step Ahead Programme and the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Work Experience) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response and forward it to the Committee for Social Development for information.

  • Correspondence from the Department detailing unemployment pressures on the Employment Service.

     Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • Correspondence from the Department regarding the call for evidence in relation to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and Service Provision Charge (Protection of Employment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request a copy of its response before it is submitted to BIS.

  • Correspondence from the Department providing an update on its input to the January 2012 monitoring round.

     Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this update.

  • Correspondence from the Department in response to Committee request to reinstate funding for Adult Learners Week.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • Correspondence from the Director General of the Northern Ireland Assembly thanking the Committee for hosting the NOW ‘Masterchef’ Event.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence and survey from CBI on Unlocking Employment - a joint survey on attitudes to employment law among Northern Ireland businesses.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Department of Education providing statistics for Education Maintenance Allowance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • Correspondence from the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the Department’s Investment Activity Report for December 2011.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • Correspondence from the Special EU Programmes Body including their third edition of their public affairs bulletin.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

The Committee also noted a number of invitations received.

10.  Draft Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the draft Forward Work Programme until the end of February 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to schedule these briefings.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to see if it was possible to bring forward the date of the visit to Wrightbus.

11.  Any Other Business

There was a general discussion on the implications for the future of the Committee if the Department for Employment and Learning is dissolved.

12. Date, time and place of next meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the next meeting should be held on Wednesday, 18 January 2012, at 10.00 am in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.06 pm

Mr Basil McCrea
Chairperson, Committee for Employment & Learning

18 January 2012

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