Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (168)

Robert Troy

Question:

168. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has a long-term plan to deal with skills shortages in various sectors; and the timeframe to implement recommendations by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. [28999/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department works in collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills to ensure that the education and training system is producing the right talent pool to ensure the success of enterprise in Ireland.

In particular, my Department provides research and secretarial support to the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). The EGFSN plays a key role in identifying and advising the Government on current and future skills needs, through the undertaking of research, analysis and horizon scanning on current and emerging skills requirements at thematic and sectoral levels. Recently completed and ongoing work being undertaken by the EGFSN includes analyses of skills needs or implications relating to the food and drink sector, design, high level ICT, Brexit/trade related skills needs, and digitalisation.

As part of the National Skills Architecture, the EGFSN presents its findings to the National Skills Council, which includes representation from the chief skills stakeholders within the Irish economy, including my Department.

Together with additional skills and labour market intelligence provided by the Regional Skills Fora, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS, and employment permit trends, the Council works to enhance the response of the education and training system to the provision and delivery of those skills. In considering the recommendations of the EGFSN, the Government and relevant stakeholders are guided by the timeframes advised by the Group in its individual reports.

This National Skills Architecture, underpinned by robust analysis and data collection on skills needs, ensures an education and training system that can be responsive and flexible in meeting the evolving skills needs of the economy, especially under the impact of continuing technological change.

The research of the EGFSN and SLRMU also informs my Department’s Economic Migration Policy Unit, which holds responsibility for the employment permits system and manages the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List and Ineligible Categories List.

The employment permits regime is designed to facilitate the entry of appropriately skilled non-EEA migrants to fill areas of identified skills shortage. This objective is balanced by the need to ensure that there are no suitably qualified Irish/EEA nationals available to undertake the work, and the shortage is a genuine one. The rationale underpinning inclusion or omission from the occupations list is augmented by a consultation process that includes calls for submissions.

The analysis of the EGFSN, and other work by my Department, have been reflected in the overarching longer term strategies for the education and training system published in recent years. These include Technology Skills 2022, Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025, and the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019, including its associated annual implementation and successor plans, all of which have been developed by the Department of Education and Skills.

The EGFSN’s analysis has continued to inform the development of my own Department’s policies and strategies, such as Enterprise 2025 and the Action Plan for Jobs. More recently, EGFSN’s analysis has informed Future Jobs Ireland - a key pillars of which is enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent. This pillar is underpinned by a number of ambitions such as the provision of high quality and timely education and training responses to evolving enterprise and skills needs; encouraging lifelong learning and upskilling; and fostering participation in apprenticeship and traineeship programmes.