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Mr Robin Swann MLA, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Westminster candidate for North Antrim, has challenged the Alliance Employment and Learning Minister to “fully justify an economic strategy which supposedly would see up to 18,000 jobs created over the next five years”.

Assemblyman Swann, who is UUP Chief Whip and Chairman of the Stormont Employment and Learning Committee, said there was “the very real danger that the new strategy on addressing economic activity in the Province could be a damp squib”.

Mr Swann was reacting to a joint statement from the Alliance DEL Minister as agreed by the DUP Enterprise Minister on the strategy Enabling Success – Supporting the Transition from Economic Inactivity to Employment.

Mr Swann added: “The minister statement outlines three target groups, three strategic objectives, six themes and 11 projects, with an interim strategic goal of an employment rate of 70% by 2020. That is an additional 18,000 jobs over the next five years. Is that the limit of the ambition of this strategy?

“The strategy recognises overall job creation as critical but we cannot move people into jobs that are not there. What resources have already been assigned by the Executive to this strategy?

“These are serious questions which must be answered by these two Executive Ministers otherwise the entire strategy could be dismissed as an election stunt in the wake of polls for Westminster and Stormont.

“I will certainly be closely monitoring these developments to ensure that promises made in this strategy do not end up as empty words to gain votes, but are actually converted into real jobs for the people in Northern Ireland.”

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