Sinn Féin and DUP ministers need to urgently follow the example of the Welsh Government and develop a strategy to address Northern Ireland’s chronic brain drain, SDLP Finance and Economy spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said.
The Welsh Government has launched a vision specifically aimed at encouraging more young people to plan their future in the region, fuelling job creation and addressing longstanding regional economic imbalances.
Mr O'Toole expressed his disappointment that Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy and DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons have failed to produce any dedicated strategy aimed at addressing the chronic outflow of talented young people, despite Northern Ireland having both the highest levels of educational migration and among the weakest regional economies in these islands.
Earlier this year, the SDLP launched the Make Change Programme, a dedicated civil service recruitment programme aimed at inspiring high achieving graduates and school leavers to stay in Northern Ireland and help improve society through public service.
The South Belfast MLA said:
“The fact that the Welsh Government realises the need to tackle brain drain only highlights the total failure of Sinn Féin and DUP ministers to lift a finger on this issue. Like Wales, the North also suffers from chronically high outward educational migration and weak productivity, but in unlike Wales, certain ministers seem content for this shameful situation to continue without any serious policy engagement.
“Earlier this year, the SDLP launched its Make Change Programme to inspire young people not just to stay in Northern Ireland – or return here from elsewhere – but to actually help transform this society by getting involved in public service.
“Sadly Sinn Féin and the DUP appear not just resigned, but perhaps even indifferent to the Brain Drain that has plagued Northern Ireland for too long.”