Business leaders call on politicians to reform our segregated education system

Business leaders brought a clear message to Stormont today (24 March 2014): we need to reform our education system in order for Northern Ireland to flourish and prosper – and the business community is keen to be involved in shaping future education.

Representatives of business organisations joined the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), politicians and government officials for the publication of a new report, The Business of Education, at Parliament Buildings.

The report represents more than a year of engagement and dialogue between the IEF and the business sector. It includes a summary of an independent poll, carried out by LucidTalk among business leaders, researching attitudes to education in Northern Ireland. The results clearly indicate that a majority of those questioned agreed that a de-segregated education system would impact positively on economic growth.Report front cover

Ken Cathcart, IEF Trustee, introduced the report to the invited audience. He said: “It gives a snapshot of a sector eager to offer help in growing an education system which prepares young people for working life in the twenty-first century. A wide range of entrepreneurs and industrialists took the opportunity to join the conversation and made a valuable contribution to the growing debate around the future of education.”

John Armstrong, Managing Director of the Construction Employers Federation, gave his perspective on discussed his perspective on The Business of Education at the launch. John said: “Education should be organised in such a way that funds are directed where they are most needed: equipping schools and skilling staff to prepare young people for the world beyond. Currently our education model does not make economic sense.  It is also important to recognise that work and business take place in a diverse society in a globalised economy and the school experience should be reflecting that.”

Exemplifying the spirit of the report’s findings, one local company has named the Integrated Education Fund as its Official Charity Partner at the forthcoming Smart Business Show. This exciting new B2B event, in the Odyssey Arena over the 29 & 30th May, will attract 8,000 business people keen to grow their business through innovation. Other Smart Business Show Partners include the NI Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, Women in Business, The Law Society of Northern Ireland, University of Ulster and a dozen other prestigious groups. Sponsors include BT, Invest NI, Ardmore advertising, Fujitsu and Innov8.

The IEF’s report, The Business of Education is part of a continuing programme of engagement with business, unions and wider civil society organisations who are keen to participate in moves to build a better education system and a truly united community.

Click to download the Report.