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Education Key to Improving Economy

"The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is extremely concerned at the results of the Derry Journal's investigations that have revealed that the city has the UK's highest rate of unemployment. While the city is the UK's unemployment 'hot spot', there is a serious problem across the North West region. Strabane is the only council area in the UK where unemployment has actually risen in the last year. Recent job loss announcements in Limavady and Coleraine demonstrate the need for the Executive and Assembly to take serious measures to address unemployment across the North West.

"In terms of the actions needed for Derry, they are actually very clear. We need action on two things: infrastructure and skills.

"The infrastructure that is required is, more than anything, a good road network. That means good road connections with both Belfast and Dublin. We also want a continued commitment to the City of Derry Airport and further upgrades to the rail network.

"As for skills, that comes from all parts of our education system. Expanding the University is obviously the most important part of this, not just from the point of view of skills, but also in terms of research outcomes, the attraction of investment and the direct spending that comes out of the presence of a substantially expanded university.

"As well as that, we need the right skills emerging from further education and our post primary schools.

"If we are serious about turning around our local economy, there has to be investment in skills and infrastructure. That is the way not just to increase unemployment, but equally important also to increase incomes for those in work."