Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:31 UK

Employment and Learning Committee

The employment minister said he was a strong believer in a future single department for the economy, on 12 September 2012.

Stephen Farry said he was encouraged that the first and deputy first ministers had delayed axing his department until they completed a comprehensive review of all the Stormont departments.

Giving evidence to the employment and learning committee, Mr Farry said the uncertainty created about the future of his department was not helpful.

However, he insisted it had not had a negative impact on the performance of his officials.

"I think this review is very encouraging and I think we will get a positive result from that in due course, exactly how it will pan out is largely speculation, but the department is here and we are working away," he said.

The TUV's Jim Allister also challenged the minister on the latest unemployment figures which showed that the Northern Ireland jobless level had moved above the UK average.

"For a consecutive 28 months, Northern Ireland has either had the highest, or the second highest, unemployment rate in the UK," he said.

The figures also revealed that Northern Ireland had the highest rate of youth unemployment in the UK with 23.5% of 18-24 year olds not in jobs.

The committee's chairman Basil McCrea said he believed there was "an element of complacency in that youth unemployment is getting serious and is not being tackled".

Mr Farry rejected the chairman's assertion.

Employment and learning committee membership

SEE ALSO

Story Tools

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific