Brendan McGinty, Skillnet Ireland Chairperson, recently presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills, about the future of apprenticeships, traineeships and in-employment training, along with representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and the Technological Higher Education Association.
In his statement Brendan championed in-employment training and outlined the key challenges that lie ahead for Irish businesses, highlighting the important role that upskilling plays in dealing with those challenges.
“To support the economy, we must put talent first. It requires us to bridge the skills and people gaps that exist between the needs of employers and workers, where businesses seek to expand their businesses, to serve their communities, and to grow the economy.”
He also spoke about the global trends and factors that are driving skills requirements in enterprise.
“Our economy is being rapidly reshaped by technology, automation, globalisation, geopolitical shifts and several other forces. The manifestation of changes being discussed in the debate on the ‘future of work’ are already with us today and are influencing the way companies operate and how work is organised. This affects job content, skill needs and quality requirements.
This transformation is creating opportunity, but it’s also creating disruption, and with it, insecurity for many businesses and workers. Some of this insecurity can be attributed to two gaps that are preventing our nation from leveraging its talent and our people from realising their full potential. The first is a skills gap: too many people lack the skills they need to compete for 21st century jobs. The second is a people gap: too many businesses can’t find the workers (and often with the right skills) they need, when and where they need them. Closing both gaps is imperative to our competitiveness.”
Noting that Brexit is also having a disruptive impact on small-and medium-sized businesses, Brendan recommended that Irish businesses in exposed sectors must equip themselves with the essential skills they need to meet the challenges that lie ahead:
“By 2022, only a short number of years from now, somewhere in the order of 54% of all workers will have to have some level of upskilling or reskilling. That is a significant challenge for Ireland. And we need to be ahead of that in the competition for inward investment, around job sustainability and sustaining our regions. Many SMEs are outside of the major urban centres and they are the ones who employ 70% of our workforce. They are key in terms of sustaining regional jobs.
We cannot sit back and watch an economy that is poised for greater growth stall because we have not sufficiently prepared for the skills and people challenges that we face. We will ensure that future investment by enterprise can be matched with suitable skills and talent supply at regional levels, particularly with SMEs.”
Brendan outlined the key role that Skillnet Ireland plays in supporting SMEs address these challenges:
“Skillnet Ireland is a powerful example of how the State and enterprise can work together to meet identified challenges and shape the future of workforce development. We are actively developing solutions for enterprise and the challenges they face through workforce planning for industry sectors at a strategic level; by developing the skills of workers and upskilling those already in employment through enterprise-led learning and development; and by facilitating and supporting interventions that advance our understanding of the future of work and that anticipate future skills.”
To hear Brendan’s statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills and hear Skillnet Ireland’s recommendations in dealing with those challenges, watch the video here.
Click here to read Brendan’s full statement.