05 December, 2016 - John Halligan TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Skills & Innovation addresses delegates at the South East Regional Skills Forum ‘Careers of the Future’ Event

The Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, John Halligan TD today addressed delegates at the South East Regional Skills Forum ‘Careers of the Future’ Event in Kilkenny.

This event highlights the career opportunities available in various sectors to career guidance professionals at second and third level, and to adult guidance counsellors. The event includes the launch of a new video highlighting career opportunities across key sectors, and a panel discussion with industry representatives.

The growing skills demands in the South East are mainly concentrated in engineering, science, IT and finance related disciplines. The shortages are greatest in the pharma/medtech, engineering/manufacturing, agriculture/food, business services, hospitality, and construction sectors. Providing clear insights about these sectors to career advisors is one of a number of key steps required to increase the number of students who will be attracted to pursue careers in these sectors. The higher and further education and training providers are working to deliver relevant courses to meet the emerging jobs demand.

Speaking at the event, the Minister said: “As Minister for Training and Skills, I am delighted to be here today in Kilkenny to address such a diverse and significant audience and panel who have demonstrated a willingness and commitment to work together in order to identify, disseminate and address the existing and future skills needs of learners and enterprise in the South East”.

“The South East is experiencing skills shortages in engineering, science and ICT to name but a few. Enterprise is also increasingly placing greater emphasis on the need for transversal and cross sectoral skills in the workplace. The education and training system has a number of initiatives in place such as the National Skills Strategy and the Regional Skills Fora to address these enterprise needs and the needs of learners. We are committed and determined that the education and training system will continue to explore and develop new initiatives to meet these needs”.

“I very much acknowledge and applaud the important role that all guidance counsellors have in helping inform young people and adults on how best to navigate the journey of further, higher education and training and ultimately employment in their chosen profession”.



Notes for Editors

Action Plan for Education

The Government launched the first Action Plan for Education in September 2016, aimed at making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. This plan, which incorporates the Department of Education’s Strategy Statement outlines hundreds of actions and sub-actions to be implemented across 2016-2019, with timelines and lead responsibility assigned. Publication of quarterly implementation reports and continuous consultation with stakeholders and members of the Oireachtas will be central to the process.

The Action Plan for Education focuses on five key goals, which cover the span of education and training services:

  1. Improve the learning experience and the success of learners.
  2. Improve the progress of learners at risk of educational disadvantage or learners with special educational needs.
  3. Help those delivering education services to continuously improve.
  4. Build stronger bridges between education and wider community.
  5. Improve national planning and support services.

Targets have been set and actions to achieve these are listed. These actions will be monitored against published timelines, with responsibility for actions clearly assigned. The Department will publish progress reports each quarter, and implementation of the Action Plan is a clear priority within the Department.  

The Plan is the start of a process, and is not an exhaustive list of everything that will be done to deliver our ambitions. Updated annual Action Plans will be published, covering the actions that will be implemented. The Department is now developing the Action Plan for Education 2017.  

Skills– recognising that the ‘war for talent’ is now one of the most important factors for job-creation, ambitious action to be developed and implemented including a total of 100 apprenticeship schemes and 50 traineeship schemes delivering 50,000 registrations between now and 2020; 25% increase in increase access to work experience at higher level; 25% increase in flexible learning; an entrepreneurship education plan –

Some examples of what success will look like:

-         Significantly reducing the gap with the top European performers in areas of numeracy and science.

-         Continuing to improve retention rates at second-level in DEIS schools, from their current rate of 82.7% to the national norm, currently 90.2%, by 2025.

-         Increasing by 7 points (equivalent to 30%) the proportion of students at risk of disadvantaged who proceed to Higher Education.

-         Systematically reducing the skills gap in areas of critical skill need in Higher Education by providing for 50,000 upskilling and reskilling places.

-         Developing a strong stream of employer supported apprenticeships and traineeships, providing places for 13,000 young people in 2020, in 100 career areas.

The Action Plan for Education 2016 – 2019 is available here: http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Strategy-Statement/Department-of-Education-and-Skills-Strategy-Statement-2016-2019.pdf

National Skills Strategy 2025 - Ireland’s Future

As part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015, the Department of Education and Skills has developed a new National Skills Strategy 2025 - Ireland’s Future. The strategy was developed in the context of significant reform in the education and training sector to ensure a more dynamic, responsive and high quality system that provides all learners with the knowledge and skills they need to participate fully in society and the economy

This new National Skills Strategy 2025 aims to underpin Ireland's growth as an economy and as a society over the coming years. Through the vision, actions and targets set out, the Strategy will support development of a well-educated, well-skilled and adaptable labour force, creating and sustaining a strong pool of talented people of all ages living in Ireland.

The Strategy will support employer and learner access to a dynamic, adaptable, innovative and high-quality education and training system. Employers, whether public or private, will have access to an excellent pipeline of talented, innovative workers. Lifelong learning will be promoted and supported as well as more effective use of skills in the workplace to drive productivity and innovation.

The full text of the National Skills Strategy can be accessed here


National and Regional Skills Architecture

The scale of Ireland’s administration allows for close collaboration between Government departments and agencies in the development and implementation of cross departmental policies. It also facilitates engagement with wider stakeholders such as those representing enterprise. Such collaboration and engagement has been evidenced in the development of a range of policies and strategies such as the Higher Education Strategy, the Further Education and Training Strategy, the Actions Plan(s) for Jobs and Pathways to Work.

In the area of skills identification and provision there is a wide range of organisations involved sometimes with complementary roles and sometimes with overlapping roles. This landscape has evolved and changed over time. New bodies have been created such as SOLAS and the Apprenticeship Council, while 33 Vocational Education Committees have been rationalised into 16 Education and Training Boards and Forfas has been integrated into the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS has provided valuable input in terms of labour market research over the years not least through its work on thematic reports on supply of skills and regional labour market analysis. The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) has also provided valuable input, in particular through its sectoral studies which have identified needs of particular sectors as well as needs in more horizontal areas such as ICT. Close engagement with employers is a feature of the work of both groups. Education and training providers also keep abreast of developing trends in sectors of enterprise related to their provision. It is essential that providers maintain such contacts / connection with relevant sectors. While labour market and broad sectoral trends can be identified at a high level on an ongoing basis, more granular sectoral studies are less frequent.

National Skills Council (NSC)

The National Skills Strategy also provides for the establishment of a new national skills architecture. This new architecture includes a new National Skills Council which when established will oversee research, forecasting and prioritisation of skills needs in the economy and report on delivery of responses by the  education and training system to those needs. 

The Department of Education and Skills has established a new Skills Planning and Enterprise Engagement Unit which will provide support to the National Skills Council. The new Unit will give a dedicated focus to enterprise engagement and will enhance a co-ordinated response to skills needs across the different sectors of education and training. It will also oversee the development of the Regional Skills Fora and the development of links between the Council and the fora.

Regional Skills Fora

Nine Regional Skills Fora have been established in the context of the strong focus on the skills agenda as part of Government policy to support economic recovery and development, job creation and tackling unemployment.

The Regional Skills Fora will enhance the existing engagement between employers and education providers and facilitate employers in having their say in what skills mix will best serve their region into the future. 

The innovative structure of the fora sees the work plan within each region being driven by key stakeholders in the region including employers, enterprises and education and training providers, ensuring that the responses developed are tailored to the unique identified skills needs. The fora will also provide a cohesive education-led structure for employers and the further and higher education system to work together in building the skills needs of their regions.

Nine Regional Skills Forum managers have been appointed to be the key contact points and to lead the work of the forum in each region.  Each Regional Skills Forum Manager will establish and manage a strong network of working relationships between the stakeholders in the region. Among their priorities will be  facilitating the involvement of enterprise stakeholders in a collaborative framework with education and training partners in the identification, development and delivery of skills development responses, and share and disseminate information to external stakeholders.

Regional Skills Website (www.regionalskills.ie)

A Regional Skills Website was launched in May 2016 as a communication tool for employers and education and training providers.