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The Skillnet Ireland Industry Insights Series is designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of specific business challenges and the development of actionable insights and solutions for industry by industry.

Since its launch in 2018, sixteen research projects have been published, each contributing to thought leadership on the future of work and learning, workforce design or people development. This initiative is designed to facilitate deep and relevant collaborations between industry bodies, government and academic research partners supporting a joined-up efficient innovation ecosystem. Over the past three years, this industry-led research initiative has contributed to government policy and significantly advanced our understanding of work at sectoral, regional, and wider economic level.

Reflecting on the insights delivered in 2021 so far

2021 has been a busy period for Skillnet Ireland with Skillnet Business Networks launching six research studies during the first half of the year on the topics of carbon neutrality, micro credentials, cybersecurity, design practice and the digital transformation of the electronics industry. Each publication has delivered powerful insights on the forces that are shaping the future of work, industry skills and the steps needed for enterprise to seize these opportunities.

The publication of Green Tech Skillnet’s report Zero by 50 – Our Climate Neutral Future coincided with the Government’s launch of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021Green Tech Skillnet’s report, which was endorsed by Minister for Climate, Environment and Communications, Eamonn Ryan TD, is a call to action for Government and the business community to play our part in preventing irreparable damage to our planet by transitioning to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The study outlines how this can be done for Ireland’s energy system across all key sectors: electricity, heating and transport. The report by MaREI, the world-leading SFI Research Centre at University College Cork, sets out Ireland’s decarbonisation pathway to becoming truly energy independent, delivering warmer homes, cleaner air, and tens of thousands of new jobs.

We have set a national climate objective to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In the coming months we will develop a new Climate Action Plan to set out how we will achieve this.

Today’s report from the MaREI Centre and Wind Energy Ireland is an important and valuable contribution to the debate. It shows not only how we can decarbonise but how we can do so in a way that builds our economy and delivers a cleaner, more sustainable and secure future for us all.

Minister for Climate, Environment and Communications, Eamonn Ryan TD

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies have pivoted to new working models and reengineered existing ones for a much-altered business landscape. ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet and the Kemmy Business School at University of Limerick have conducted research into the leadership challenges of today, post Covid, and in building sustainable leadership for a much-altered business landscape. Their initial study A New World of Work? Leader Reflections on the Impact of Covid-19 found that the pace of change to the world of work has accelerated rapidly by the Covid-19 pandemic and identified key leadership challenges into the future around building sustainable leadership approaches, developing successful hybrid work models and building new virtual social networks and learning experiences for employees. A more in-depth research study which is currently underway will explore how leaders and managers ‘connect and learn’ in order to build the organisational capacity and team capabilities required for the new world of work.

Skillnet Ireland has been hugely supportive of the ICBE Skillnet Business Networks since first funding our Future of Work Now research in 2018. Findings from our recent research, Leader Reflections on the Impact of Covid-19 identified key leadership challenges into the future around building sustainable leadership approaches, developing successful hybrid work models and building new virtual social networks and learning experiences.

Our new study will explore how leaders and managers ‘connect and learn’ in order to build the organisational capacity and team capabilities required for the new world of work. The team is very excited about getting started and about the practical outcomes this research can lead to for Irish businesses.

Vivienne Kiernan, ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet

Delivering critical insights to enhance innovation

Design is one of Ireland’s fastest growing sectors in Ireland with growth in design jobs is triple the national average. In February, Design Skillnet published a research report examining the evolving Design Practice in Ireland and the sector’s immediate and future skills requirements. Providing unique insights into the health of the sector, the report highlights a critical need to invest in leadership, management, business and digital skills for design professionals, and will inform the creation of a skills and development map for Irish designers for the next three years.

Increasing the adoption of micro-credentials through collaborations between enterprise and the education sector is a key priority within Skillnet Ireland and national skills policy. A Micro-Credential Roadmap: Currency, Cohesion and Consistency is the output of a research collaboration between five Skillnet Business Networks, the National Institute of Digital Learning (NIDL) and the Irish Institute of Digital Business in Dublin City University (DCU). The report published in March identifies micro-credentials as a key building block in response to the challenge of developing transversal skills and promoting new life-long and life-wide learning pathways. The report’s roadmap highlights the key priorities and steps needed to position Ireland as an international hub of excellence in the micro-credentials space.

Looking forward – delivering valuable insights into the new world of work

Looking to the second half of 2021, there are several research projects underway that we are eagerly anticipating the launch of across the areas of diversity and inclusion, digital health solutions and skills, future learning frameworks and immersive technologies. These topics cover a breadth of sectors including healthcare, finance, manufacturing, technology and construction.

With innovative and important research projects currently underway, we are very excited about what the future holds for the Industry Insights Series, our Skillnet Business Networks, and their research partners. The initiative will continue to deliver valuable insights into the world of work which will, ultimately, help business in Ireland boost innovation and enhance competitiveness, through enterprise-driven people development.

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