The Foyle Westminster Candidate welcomed comments from the North of Ireland’s new FinTech envoy Andrew Jenkins about the urgent need to stem the numbers of talented young people leaving for university and not coming back.
He said: “Our strong supply of talented, ambitious young people is one of our economy’s greatest assets.
“It is a fundamental threat to our economy, and the sustainability of some of our rural communities, that we are raising our young people for export because we aren’t providing them with the opportunity to pursue their ambitions at home.
“It is within our power to create new university places in close collaboration with large employers to ensure that we have the right skills mix to meet the needs of our changing economy while providing opportunities for our young people to study, work and make a life for themselves here.
“There is a direct link between where a student studies and where they decide to set down roots. 89% of young people in higher education in Northern Ireland get a job here whereas 61% of those who leave never come back.
“We need to address that.
“That means expanding the Magee campus of Ulster University. It means revisiting our curriculum to include coding as a basic skill taught to young people throughout their school journey.
“And it means a robust review of higher education funding.
“Education should be treated and resourced as a public good.
“SDLP MPs will be ambitious for our economy and for our young people,” added the Foyle MLA.