Skills Planning and Enterprise Engagement Unit

Who we are

The Unit has principal responsibility for the Network of Regional Skills Fora that has been created as part of the Government’s National Skills Strategy. The Regional Skills Fora provides an opportunity for employers and the education and training system to work together to meet the emerging skills needs of their regions. More structured engagement on the skills agenda and the work of the Fora will contribute to better outcomes for learners and support enterprise development.

Regional Skills Fora

Nine Regional Skills Fora have been established and will provide:

  • a single contact point in each region to help employers connect with the range of services and supports available across the education and training system
  • more robust labour market information and analysis of employer needs to inform programme development
  • greater collaboration and utilisation of resources across the education and training system and enhancement of progression routes for learners
  • a structure for employers to become more involved in promoting employment roles and opportunities for career progression in their sectors.

A Regional Skills Manager has been appointed to lead the activities of each Forum. The Managers will be required to establish and manage a strong network of working relationships between the stakeholders in the region, with particular focus on liaison between enterprise and education and training stakeholders in advancing the objectives of their Forum.The Regional Skills Fora have developed work plans and will submit progress reports to the Department on a quarterly basis. Each Regional Skills Manager is a member of the implementation group on each of their Regional Action Plan for Jobs.

The Nine Regional Skills Forum Managers are as follows:

A Regional Skills Website was launched in May 2016 as a communication tool for employers and education and training providers.  By using the data from the SOLAS, Labour Market Research Unit, the website provides access to a detailed profile for each of the nine Regions drawn from all relevant skills research and datasets to provide the basis for informed dialogue on skills needs.

The Regional Skills Fora Annual Report 2019 is available here.

National Skills Council  

The National Skills Strategy also provides for the establishment of a new National Skills Council.

The National Skills Council will:

  • oversee research
  • advise on prioritisation of identified skills needs and on how to secure delivery of identified needs
  • have a key role in promoting and reporting on the delivery of responses by education and training providers to those priorities. 

The National Skills Council has been established and includes representatives from senior levels in the public and private sector. It will be an advisory, non-statutory body under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills.

Membership of the National Skills Council 

Bob SavageChairman, Vice President, Regional CIO for EMEA and Cork Site Leader Dell Technologies
Simon Harris TDMinister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Jim BreslinSecretary General, Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
William BeausangAssistant Secretary, Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
John McKeonSecretary General, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Dr. Orlaigh QuinnSecretary General, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
Patricia ColemanAssistant Secretary, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Martin ShanahanCEO, IDA
Julie SinnamonCEO, Enterprise Ireland
Prof. Mark FergusonDirector General, Science Foundation Ireland
Andrew BrownleeCEO, SOLAS
Dr. Padraig WalshCEO, Quality and Qualifications, Ireland
Paddy LavelleGeneral Secretary, ETBI
Prof. Philip NolanPresident, Irish Universities Association
Dr. Brendan McCormackChair of Board of Presidents, Technological Higher Education Association
Dr. Alan WallCEO, HEA
Paul HealyChief Executive, Skillnet Ireland
Martin McVicarManaging Director, Combilift
Liam RyanManaging Director, SAP Labs Ireland
Peter MulrineP. Mulrine & Sons Sales
Patricia RobertsProprietor No.1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa

The Terms of Reference of the National Skills Council are:

  • Receive and consider costed proposals for the annual research/work programme of the EGFSN in advance of the programme being formally submitted for approval for funding by Department of Education and Skills or the Department of Enterprise Jobs and Innovation as appropriate.
  • Receive, consider and approve prior to publication agreed action plans based on EGFSN research findings.
  • Receive, consider and publish research and reports on skills and labour market data from the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit of SOLAS.
  • Receive reports on the work of the Regional Skills Fora and consider assessments from the Regional Fora in relation to skills development in their regions.
  • Receive reports from SOLAS, HEA and the Chairs of the Council of Presidents of the Universities and Institutes of Technologies on the delivery of responses to identified skills needs.
  • Receive reports from DES, HEA and SOLAS on overall funding allocations for education and training provision.
  • Provide updates as required from other Government Departments on related strategies.
  • Receive regular updates from other relevant stakeholders (IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland) on developing sectoral opportunities and potential target areas for increased Foreign Direct Investment and consider and advise on issues associated with the availability of skills to support such employment opportunities.
  • Prepare an annual prioritisation of identified skills needs to inform decisions on allocation of funding across FET, HE and Skillnets. This prioritisation should include reference to levels and discipline areas and delivery mechanisms e.g. mainstream provision/ targeted funds.
  • An annual statement of the work of the Council will be presented to the Minister for Education and Skills and published no later than the end of March of the following year.  Other reports may be published as agreed by the Council/ Minutes of meetings will be published.

The Skills Planning and Enterprise Engagement Unit also has responsibility for the monitoring and implementation of the National Skills Strategy.