Ruane: we must teach business in schools


Ruane: we must teach business in schools

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Belfast Telegraph
By Nigel Tilson

Schools must ensure what they teach meets the needs of the business community if a strong economy is to be built in Northern Ireland, the Education Minister has told Ulster business leaders.

Caitriona Ruane, in a meeting with the CBI, said she was fully aware of the importance of education in delivering a thriving economy.

The meeting was held to discuss how the education and business sectors can work together to ensure young people leaving full-time education have the necessary skills required by their future employers.

"My vision is for every school to be a good school, producing creative, articulate young people who can confidently take their place in the global community," she said after her discussions with CBI Northern Ireland chairman Declan Billington, and CBI NI director Nigel Smyth.

"The world around us is constantly changing and so what we teach in our schools must also change to make sure it meets the needs of the business community if we are to build a strong economy."

The Minister said that when looking at the needs of the business community, she recognised the importance of ensuring schools improve on standards of literacy and numeracy and offer a range of subjects.

"In addition to academic subjects, we need to encourage both girls and boys to realise that science, technology and engineering can provide good career opportunities," she added.

The Education Minister said there was also a need to improve language skills.

Following the meeting, Mr Billington said: "Today, more than ever, businesses will be competing on the basis of the attitudes, skills and abilities of their employees.

"It is therefore essential we equip our children with those skills which offer attractive opportunities for individuals and business alike.

"Children today, through the subjects they choose at 14, are set on their future career paths at a very early age and it is therefore vitally important the Careers Service and the education system together provide the best quality education and guidance, ensuring a strong match between the skills needs of business and the subjects being studied."

He pointed out that people in the western world all share the same challenges in relation to the rising Asian economies and are all responding in the same vein, competing on a skills and innovation platform.

"To succeed we therefore have to do it better than everyone else. That is the challenge we face in today's schools - to deliver the highest quality education and motivation to our children, encouraging them to excel in subjects which support the needs of the economy," the CBI chairman said. "We welcome a devolved administration which will put the economy first and make sure our children, through skills development, will reap the benefits of this in their adult life."