The Head of Business presented the above report, a copy of which was previously circulated to Member. The purpose of the report was to update Members on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labour market and highlight proposed broad areas of labour market intervention designed to help mitigate these impacts.
Councillor Durkan welcomed the report. She referred to the economic impact of the pandemic crisis and the imminent redundancies due to business going into insolvency and asked for the green tourism sector to be explored as part of the above recovery initiative.
Councillor Ferguson welcomed the report and expressed appreciation of the information provided. She referred specifically to the issue of childcare provision and expense and suggested that businesses be encouraged to provide an incentive for child-care providers to work in collaboration so to assist parents return to the workplace.
Councillor Cusack referred to the recent exposure of Invest NI’s financial negligence and incompetence and queried if Members would be given the opportunity to address the issues with Invest NI Officials at a future Committee meeting.
The Chair confirmed that Invest NI Senior Officials had been invited to attend the next Committee Meeting to be held on 8 September 2020.
Councillor Cooper referred to the previous speakers comment regarding Invest NI. He said that he was not concerned about the lack of intervention by the local Office when dealing with SME’s, however he was concerned about the wider approach by core management. He said that his party colleagues intended to meet with Senior Officials from Invest NI to discuss pertinent issues. He added that the wider issue was engagement with all relevant stakeholders in terms of encouraging a co-ordinated approach within the community training sector so to ensure that participants of the training skills programmes are encouraged to advance to levels 3 and 4 and be in a better position to apply for higher paid jobs.
Councillor Mellon concurred with the previous speaker’s comment regarding the provision of training opportunities for people at level 3 to advance to degree level. She also referred to children who had fallen behind in their education due to Covid-19 and singled out as being disadvantaged because of no technology to assist with home-schooling. She also referred to increased mental health issues post Covid-19, amongst all age groups within the City and District and this required to be included in the development of recovery plans in going forward.
Recommended that Council;
i) notes the contents of the report and endorse the proposed broad areas of labour market intervention designed to help mitigate these impacts. These include Careers Information & Guidance, Health & Wellbeing, Apprenticeships, Skills Academies, Employer Incentives and Supporting Inclusion in Education.
ii) agree for Officers to bring forward a Covid-19 Skills Recovery Plan to Members in September 2020.