Coronavirus: NI economy ‘may suffer longer than rest of the UK’

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PA

The NI economy is likely to suffer from the impact of the pandemic for longer than other parts of the UK, according to a report.

Think tank Pivotal says this is because the local economy already had problems.

These include low productivity, more people in low-paid jobs in agriculture, retail, health and social care and a skills shortfall.

The report is calling on the executive to address structural weaknesses in the economy.

“This cannot be left to the Department for the Economy,” said director Ann Watt.

“The executive as a whole, across all parties, needs to come together and build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future.”

The think tank says this downturn will hit some groups harder than others, particularly young people and those in lower-income households.

It is recommending the government invests more heavily in education and training, green spaces, infrastructure and broadband.

On education, the report says almost half the total workers in Northern Ireland either placed on furlough or laid off have a highest qualification equivalent to GCSE.

It is proposing the idea of an educational recovery plan, which would include a national teaching support service to “level-up” the educational loss some children will have experienced in lockdown.

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