Renewed focus on tackling unemployment - Foster

Figures released today for the period May - July 2011 show that the Northern Ireland unemployment rate increased over the quarter to 7.4%.

More recent figures for August 2011 show that the number of unemployment benefit claimants increased by 100 from the previous month’s revised figure.

The total number of employee jobs in Northern Ireland was estimated at 699,650 for June 2011, representing a fall of 1,830 over the quarter.

Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “Difficult trading conditions in the world economy continue to make it extremely hard to tackle rising unemployment rates.

“We are focused on stimulating private sector growth to create more jobs and encourage export opportunities. I have already outlined plans to help rebuild the economy in Northern Ireland through the Short Term Employment Scheme (STES).

“The Executive has given Invest Northern Ireland a budget of £19m which is being targeted at the creation of 4000 new jobs by 2014.”

The Minister said that since STES was launched in April of this year, Invest NI has been actively promoting the benefits of the scheme to a wide range of key stakeholders and businesses across Northern Ireland to encourage them to bring forward employment based projects.

Arlene Foster added: “It is very encouraging that a number of these negotiations are at an advanced stage and I am confident that we will be in a position to make several very positive announcements in the near future.

“I would also call on any other eligible businesses, large or small, that would benefit from the support available to increase employment, to speak to Invest NI immediately.

“As well as providing employment grant support for new job creation, STES also includes a number of initiatives to incentivise new business start-up activity by individuals who are resident in Neighbourhood Renewal Areas and by young people (16-24) who are not in education, employment or training. While it will take time for these new businesses to develop, a significant amount of work is underway to increase awareness and I am encouraged by the early signs.”