The University of Ulster this week hosts an international conference to examine the role education plays in the development of built environment.
The All-Ireland Symposium on Built Environment Education takes place today (Friday 22 January) at the University's Belfast campus, and is designed to promote dialogue amongst the educational community of practice in the Built Environment.
It focuses on how to meet the challenge of producing a future workforce for the sector with the skills needed by both employers and the Northern Ireland economy.
Professor Ian Montgomery, Dean of Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment, said: "The University of Ulster is delighted to be hosting such a prestigious event and welcomes what promises to be a rich and varied range of speakers' perspectives during this symposium.
"We have an outstanding School of Built Environment at Ulster, and I think it is quite appropriate to be running such a symposium in the current economic climate. It is an opportunity for education professionals from all disciplines to engage with each other and to discover and debate the best ways forward for future opportunities and strategies for built environment education.
"Ulster exemplifies this through an inter-disciplinary learning environment with links between teaching and learning, and through the research units within the Schools of Art and Design, Architecture and Design, and the School of Art, Design and the School of the Built Environment.
"This symposium is designed primarily to promote dialogue amongst the educational community of practice in the Built Environment discipline across the island of Ireland and encompasses academics from Further Education and Higher Education."
At the conference, Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey encouraged delegates to produce workers with skills that the economy needs.
He said: "My Department is committed to promoting learning and skills that prepare people for work and thus supports the economy. It is essential that we strive to ensure that the type and level of skills our people have in the future, match the type of jobs that will be available in the economy of the future.
"The Built Environment workforce, in particular, needs to be highly skilled, adaptable to change, innovative and forward looking, in order to meet the constantly evolving nature of the built environment."
The Minister encouraged delegates to play their part in the creation of a skilled workforce and said: "I encourage you as educators to work with your sector bodies and employers to identify, and meet their future skills needs. Only in this way can the quality and relevance of education and training be improved and Northern Ireland's future in the global marketplace secured."-