Our plan for revitalising the economy is based on providing regionally balanced investment in infrastructure, job creation and young workers.
The Northern Ireland economy can only grow and develop if it generates more employment and focuses on securing better paid jobs. A healthy suplly of jobs enhances society by alleviating poverty and making sure that as many people as possible have the dignity of work. Generating jobs will also stem the flow of our young people emigrating in pursuit of a better economic future.
While all job investment is welcome, FDI call-centre projects, for example, do not develop high productivity sectors in our workforce and ultimately compete internationally on price. We need to raise skill levels to attract the more lucrative FDI investments in the Information and Communications Technology sector and other professional services. Investments in these sectors create well paid employment for software engineers, lawyers, creative design professionals as well as administrative staff.
The SDLP will provide additional focused support for third-level students and refocus existing skills provision to ensure we better meet the future needs of a modern fast moving economy.
We recognise, however, that further education is not the only route available in delivering a high skilled, high wage economy. We believe that the development of skills through quality apprenticeships is essential to improving the economy, stimulating work and delivering new success in Northern Ireland.
Every modern, open economy must prioritise investment in its most competitive assets by channelling resources to those sectors where it is in the best position to compete internationally while generating wealth domestically. The SDLP will continue to support our traditional primary, manufacturing and services sectors while prioritising new sectors where we see potential for growth and export.
In Northern Ireland our priority sectors include agri- food, tourism and ICT. In these sectors we have developed a degree of competitive advantage.
We have a new strategy for growth than can rebuild and revitalise our economy.