Foster promises redoubling of efforts to tackle unemployment

Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, has said that it was time for a renewed and robust strategy to tackle unemployment.

Figures released today for the period April - June 2012 show that the Northern Ireland unemployment rate was up 0.9 percentage points over the quarter at 7.6%.

More recent figures for July 2012 show that the number of unemployment benefit claimants increased by 400 from the previous month’s revised figure.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “While figures show that unemployment has increased over the quarter, the rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland (7.6%) is still below the equivalent rates in the UK (8.0%), European Union (10.3%) and the Republic of Ireland (14.6%).

“This year the Eurozone continues to face a very challenging economic climate and the level of growth in the global economy has been disappointing.

“Last month the UK also reported three consecutive quarters of falling output. We therefore need to place the latest unemployment figures in this wider context of weak external demand.”

The Minister continued: “I believe there are many opportunities available for local businesses. That is why I have asked Invest NI to work with the wider business base in Northern Ireland and redouble our efforts to boost employment through initiatives such as Boosting Business and the Jobs fund. I would encourage local businesses looking to grow and create jobs to contact Invest NI on 0800 181 4422 for advice on what support might be available.”

“There are many opportunities remain to be exploited in overseas markets which has been clearly demonstrated by Wrightbus this week after it secured a £40 million deal in Singapore. We need more local businesses to follow this path.”

Arlene Foster concluded: “My Department’s efforts remain focussed on achieving the type of structural change that is necessary to attain sustainable economic growth. At the same time we will continue to provide meaningful support to businesses through a wide range of Invest Northern Ireland programmes tailored to meet individual business needs."