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New research published by Skillnet Ireland and IDA Ireland has highlighted the need to upskill employees with key digital skills, with 49% of respondents to a survey identifying data analysis as a skill gap for employees at all levels.

Launched on Tuesday, January 16th, this is the first joint study delivered as a result of the successful partnership between the two state agencies. The study examines the digital and data skills for all non-IT roles, that are becoming widespread across multiple industries as companies adopt new technology to drive efficiency, innovation, and enhance customer experience.

In 2022, Skillnet Ireland and IDA Ireland announced a strategic partnership to collaborate and actively support Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies looking to attract and retain talent with impactful and innovative upskilling and reskilling programmes.

Digitalisation, and the ability to work with data has become a requirement for most businesses. Ensuring Ireland’s FDI enterprises have a strong, digitally resilient, and sustainable talent pipeline capable of adapting to the changing demands of digitalisation is a key priority for Skillnet Ireland and IDA Ireland.

This study addresses an information gap, taking a novel approach by exploring FDI industry leaders’ views, supplemented with desktop research and insights from subject matter experts on the data and digital skills required for non-IT roles now and in the next three-to-five-years. Industry leaders across FDI industries surveyed identified the following skills as requirements for all non-IT roles: data Skills, including input, analysis, validation, manipulation and visualisation; digital problem solving; document design and presentation; and digital communication and collaboration. Building and maintaining these skills relies on transversal skills such as resilience and openness to change, a commitment to lifelong learning, and a digital mindset.

Another key finding is that there are opportunities for leaders to future-proof their workforce by adopting a three-to-five-year view of skill development, aligned to digitalisation goals. Meanwhile, the study also identified opportunities for leaders to effectively support their workforce through change and create a culture that values data-driven decisions and embraces early adoption of new technologies to drive innovation and enhance the customer experience.

Speaking at the launch of the report, at IDA Ireland headquarters, Dara Calleary TD, Minister of State in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said: “Digitalisation and data skills no longer sit solely in the realm of the IT department or tech company, and the demand for data and digital skills within Ireland’s key industries is rapidly increasing as technology advances and more organisations seek to digitalise. Through their partnership, and respectively, both Skillnet Ireland and IDA Ireland are designing supports for businesses that will ensure that they and their staff are ready for the digitalisation challenges of the future, as well as supporting the development of leadership skills that will drive this transformation. As a result of this report, what we have is a good picture of the data and digital skills required for non-IT roles now and in the next three-to-five years, which helps us to determine the types of supports that are needed to successfully upskill and reskill our workforce so that we remain an attractive place to invest.”

Mark Jordan, Skillnet Ireland Chief Strategy Officer, said: “Ireland has a wealth of talented, skilled individuals available to work in and grow the success of FDI companies, however, as highlighted in this new study, it is essential for all businesses to continue to upskill their employees to meet the needs of the digital transition. Through our 70 Skillnet Business Networks, national initiatives and strategic partnerships, including our collaboration with IDA Ireland, Skillnet Ireland delivers the leading-edge supports needed to meet the digital upskilling and talent development needs of businesses nationwide. We strongly encourage all our stakeholders to consider how they can begin implementing a digital talent strategy within their own organisations and developing the skills and competencies needed to grow and futureproof your businesses and strengthen Ireland’s economy.”

Rachel Shelly, Global Head of Talent, Transformation and Innovation, IDA Ireland, said: “Ireland’s talented workforce continues to be a key driver in attracting foreign direct investment to Ireland. As digitalisation transforms all aspects of our economy and society, maintaining and developing digital skills will be central to the continued success of our economy, our enterprise base, and our people. This newly published report identifies a great deal of commonality across roles, regardless of industry, reinforcing the requirement for all employees to be digitally literate, and the criticality of supporting our current and future workforce to develop these fundamental life skills. We look forward to using these findings as a basis to work with our stakeholders in continuing to develop world class talent armed with the skills fundamental to sustaining Ireland’s economy and society into the future.”

The partnership between Skillnet Ireland and IDA Ireland combines IDA Ireland’s consultancy and support services with Skillnet Ireland’s talent development expertise to help drive the growth of FDI companies in Ireland.

The collaboration launched with a Strategic Talent Development programme for companies seeking to future-proof their workforce based on new strategic challenges and opportunities they are facing. More recently, Skillnet Ireland, IDA Ireland and the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy partnered to deliver an innovative Sustainability Leaders training programme to a cohort of IDA-client companies aimed at those responsible for sustainability management within their company.

The full “Data and Digital Skills for non-IT roles” report is available on the Skillnet Ireland website.

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