School projects 'will create jobs'
More than 6,000 construction jobs could be created when 22 schools start to get built, the Education Minister has said.
The projects, worth an estimated £220 million, were approved by the Department of Education in January but have still to receive planning permission.
If given the go-ahead, they are said to have the potential to generate £625 million for the economy.
Fourteen of the new-build projects are for primary schools and eight are post-primaries and were identified as priorities.
Since 2009 education sector contracts have included social clauses that require contractors to recruit long-term unemployed people, use apprentices and provide placements for students.
Sinn Fein minister John O'Dowd said in Question Time at the Assembly that a further £37 million available for minor enhancement works and maintenance schemes over the next 12 months could also create employment.
"There is great potential not only for the schools estate but for our economy. There is £37 million to be spent on the school maintenance programme next year. That is a major investment and improvement to our schools. It is not enough but it is a significant increase over previous years," he said.
"While we live in very difficult times, I think we are using our money wisely to improve the education estate and we are also using it wisely to create and sustain employment in the construction industry."
Sinn Fein's Michaela Boyle said it provides a much-needed boost to the economy.
SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey described the cash as a "great boost".