Written answers

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Skills Shortages

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
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42. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if her attention has been drawn to predictions that Ireland may have to recruit workers from abroad to fill vacancies in businesses here on a larger scale; if she has engaged with other Ministers and Departments to ensure that education, training and in work upskilling are provided for those that remain unemployed or underemployed in order that persons that can benefit from the improving economy are not left behind; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43032/17]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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As Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation I recognise that investing in education, training and upskilling is vital for a strong workforce and to ensure a stable and healthy economy. This Government has shown its commitment to this through the Action Plan for Jobs 2017 which recognises the need for upskilling and reskilling jobseekers and the importance of providing training for the long term unemployed. As the economy approaches full employment it is likely that labour and skills shortages will become more common. The Government is working hard to address such shortages.

As part of the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government has continually implemented actions to improve and expand Springboard. Over €113 million has been allocated to Springboard+ from the National Training Fund. This funding has provided for over 30,000 free part-time and full-time higher education places. Springboard courses are delivered in public and private education institutions across the country, in a broad variety of sectors including ICT, construction and international financial services. As of July 2016, 80 per cent of those who participated on a Springboard+ course since 2011 are no longer on the Live Register.

My Department engages with other Departments in relation to education, training and upskilling through the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). The EGFSN advises the Irish Government on current and future skills needs on the economy and on other labour market issues that impact on Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth. The EGFSN carries out research, analysis and horizon scanning in relation to emerging skills requirements at thematic and sectoral levels. The SOLAS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit provides the Group with data, analysis and research and manages the National Skills Database. My Department, in conjunction with SOLAS, provides the EGFSN with research and secretariat support.

Over the years the EGFSN has produced reports with key recommendations including the upskilling and training of the current labour market in order to fill skills gaps and work with stakeholders to ensure implementation of these actions. An example of this is the recent ‘Future Skills Needs in the Biopharma Industry in Ireland’ report called for vacancies to be filled by a combination of graduate intake, upskilling of those seeking employment and the continuous professional development of those working in the sector. The report also recommended both maximising available Jobseekers programmes to consolidate supply of skills and for a new biopharma apprenticeship and career traineeship to be developed.

The Biopharma report is not unique in this regard. EGFSN reports regularly recommend the implementation of training and upskilling.

Another example of this is the EGFSN’s upcoming work report on Skills for the Digital Economy which will emphasise the importance of the constant reskilling and upskilling of the workforce in creating a resilient economy. The report will focus on how different roles and different sectors will be impacted by digitalisation and will develop a synopsis of approaches to upskilling the existing workforce. This report will add to the body of work completed by the EGFSN since its inception in relation to filling skills gaps using our current labour market.


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