Improving the skills of Northern Ireland’s workforce is key to building a globally competitive economy, Simon Hamilton has said.
The country should be vying with small innovative nations like Finland and Singapore for investment, the economy minister added.
“I am convinced that skills are perhaps the single most important building block for constructing a globally competitive economy,” he said.
Mr Hamilton was addressing a business breakfast at the offices of Allstate software development in Belfast.
He added: “Our people are what is most impressive about Northern Ireland.
“When you speak to inward investors it is immediately obvious that in no small part why they come to Northern Ireland when they could invest their money anywhere is because of the loyalty, the talent and the inherent hard work of our people.”
He said that did not mean good infrastructure and low taxation were not important in attracting overseas businesses.
“But if we consider corporation tax alone, we will not capitalise on the undoubted benefits it will bring if we don’t have a suitably skilled labour supply to fill the new jobs that a competitive corporation tax rate will bring.
“I firmly believe that skills are an elevator to economic prosperity and social inclusion and I am determined that we build upon the progress we’ve been making and use skills to change lives and transform our economy.”