Need to match students to skills highlighted
14 Nov 2018
The importance of matching young people with the skills they need to play their part in the future development of Belfast’s economy was highlighted at a special event earlier today (Wednesday 14 November).
More than 120 pupils from ten post-primary schools across the Belfast City Council area attended the Urban Digital Futures seminar at Titanic Belfast this morning. They heard from some of the leading lights in the local digital technology industries, and had the opportunity to network with some of the city’s top employers.
Opening the seminar, the Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown, said:
“Technology plays a major role in terms of economic development in Northern Ireland and Belfast in particular. We have a long history of software development excellence and inward investment. The Belfast City Region’s digital sector comprises over 1,200 companies, and offers particular strength in its software engineering expertise and has clusters in mobile telecoms, financial software, information management, cyber security and connected health.
“Foreign Direct investment is currently at its highest ever level and we are one of the fastest growing knowledge economies in the UK. We pride ourselves on being future focused, outward looking and at the forefront of new digital technology. Currently we are leaders in cyber security and financial technology and Belfast is delighted to see this continue with local investments in immersive technology and artificial intelligence.
“We are a very proud tech city because technology and its application to transform lives is driven by a desire to think differently, improve quality of life here, to storm new barriers and to make the impossible possible.
“As part of our Belfast Region City Deal Programme, we are working to create a ‘Smart Belfast’- a place that can deploy the latest technologies and innovations to better understand and tackle city challenges; to manage urban systems more efficiently; and to deliver better services for our citizens.
“Belfast City Council continues to play an important role in the development and growth of the creative digital economy and the city’s international reputation for its distinct and original creative and digital sector is growing rapidly. If Belfast is to fully capitalize on the growth of these sectors, we need to ensure the stock of skills available will meet the future demands of the sector.
“It is estimated that over the coming decade over a quarter of graduate demand will be for qualifiers in STEM related subjects, yet only one tenth of Belfast graduates qualify from these subjects.
“That is why, as a Council, we’re committed to investing in our young people. We want to ensure that the supply of graduates is adequate to meet this demand in high growth sectors such as ICT, and to ensure school performance in linked subjects is of a level to enable new university entrants to access degree courses requiring STEM skills.”
Today’s seminar was hosted by Belfast City Council, the Urban Villages Initiative and MakeMatic as part of a year-long programme of activity for both primary and post-primary schools in Belfast and Derry-Londonderry, focused on engagement with the region’s key growth sectors. The programme is part-funded by the Executive Office.
Linsey Farrell, Director of the Urban Villages Initiative commented:
“The Urban Villages Initiative is working with Belfast City Council and Makematic to support schools in Urban Village areas across Belfast and Derry-Londonderry. This will allow pupils to enhance their digital capacity and better equip and inspire young people to develop their digital skills. By preparing them for careers in the flourishing local creative industries and IT sectors, we are also helping to meet our aims of building community capacity and promoting positive community identities.”
The Urban Digital Futures programme is supported by the Urban Villages Initiative – a headline action of the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) strategy. The Urban Villages Initiative is led by the Executive Office (TEO) and is designed to support good relations and develop thriving places in areas of Belfast and Derry~Londonderry with a history of deprivation and community tension.
For more information on the programme, and to view some of the projects, visit urbandigitalfutures.com