The Minister was speaking as he presented 36 businesses and organisations with the prestigious Investors in People (IiP) accreditation. IiP has long been acknowledged as an important international marque of good business practice. It is a business improvement tool that helps organisations of every size, type and location to compete and succeed through improved people performance.
At the Hillsborough Castle celebration event, Sir Reg said: "Experience has shown that companies that invest in the development of their people during times of economic downturn are in the strongest position to gain competitive advantage in recovery. In fact, research shows that companies that invest in the skills of their staff are two and half times more likely to survive."
The Minister continued: "Some of the UK's most senior business figures and union leaders recently re-urged employers not to slash staff training in a bid to cut costs in the current economic climate. I would stress to employers that it is the people we employ that will get us through challenging times and it is their commitment and skills that will make the difference." Sir Reg congratulated WOMEN'STEC and other businesses receiving the award and said: "The uptake of IiP in Northern Ireland is an encouraging sign for the local economy, and should serve as an example to other employers not yet capitalising on the bottom-line business benefits of IiP. We tend to forget that businesses are, in essence, people, and the importance of local businesses investing in their people is particularly relevant at this difficult time for industry."
He also assured businesses that as the business environment changes the delivery of IiP will also change in response to current challenges: "Work is underway to align the IiP assessment process even more closely with the business issues currently facing organisations. Organisations will also be encouraged to stretch themselves even further by looking at the themes and issues contained in the full Investors in People framework."