The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) is an independent body tasked with advising the Government on the current and future skills needs of the Irish economy, as well as any other issues that impact on the national potential for enterprise and employment growth.
In June of last year the Group published its report "Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit", which was an important contribution to the evidence base on Brexit and the Government's wider contingency planning.
Following the report's publication my Department formally engaged with the responsible bodies identified in the report, including a number of Government Departments, agencies, and industry bodies, to action and formally progress its recommendations- the timelines for which, as per the advice offered by the EGFSN, were both short term and longer term in nature.
This engagement has taken the form of a "Brexit Skills Implementation Oversight Group", which is chaired by my Department, and which continues to meet to monitor the implementation of these recommendations and maintain a watching brief on Brexit related skills issues more generally.
For those recommendations that were shorter term or immediate priorities- around Brexit awareness raising and skills needs identification, customs training, financial management training and the attraction of skilled personnel from overseas- these have been reflected in the work the Government has undertaken to ensure the enterprise base can respond to Brexit through enhancing its capacity to compete, innovate and trade. As far as those actions related to my Department are concerned, this has been reflected in:
- The participation of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and its enterprise agencies in the Government's national Brexit preparedness public information and awareness campaign, "Getting Ireland Brexit Ready".
- My Department's establishment of a dedicated "Getting Business Brexit Ready" web portal, which includes sections on advice and guidance, financial supports, and upskilling, and is linked to by my Department's Brexit social media campaign.
- Enterprise Ireland's national and regional communications campaign urging companies to prepare for Brexit through planning, innovating, competing and diversifying their trade, which complements its promotion of the Brexit Scorecard, Be Prepared Grant, Brexit Advisory Clinics, and Act on Support programme.
- The awareness raising and outreach, as well as Brexit supports, offered by InterTradeIreland and the Local Enterprise Office network, including the Brexit Planning Online Guide, Start to Plan and Brexit Implementation Vouchers, the Brexit mentor programme, as well as Brexit related conferences, workshops and targeted radio and social media advertising campaigns.
- My Department's engagement with the Revenue Commissioners in the roll out of its Trader Engagement programme, the support for customs training and advice offered under InterTradeIreland's Start to Plan voucher, the launch of Enterprise Ireland's Customs Insights and InterTradeIreland's Customs Virtual Learning Environment courses, and the roll out of the Local Enterprise Office "Prepare Your Business for Customs" workshops.
- The publication by my Department of the Currency Risk Management for Irish SMEs guide, and support for financial and currency management advice and training under Enterprise Ireland's Act On programme, InterTradeIreland's Start to Plan voucher, and Enterprise Ireland's Management Development training provision.
- My Department's contribution towards the roll out of Global Footprint 2025, which will work to raise Ireland's profile internationally, including as a place to live, do business, and invest; the implementation of the Government's Diaspora policy, Global Irish;and the implementation of the recommendations of the Review of Economic Migration Policy, published in September 2018, which will ensure the policies governing the employment permit system are fully supportive of Ireland's emerging labour market needs.
More generally, my Department and its enterprise agencies have continued to engage with the National Skills Architecture overseen by the Department of Education and Skills, to ensure that those trade and logistics related skills needs identified in the report, and amongst client companies, are serviced by education and training provision across further education and training, higher education and Skillnet Ireland training networks.
The report also highlighted longer term objectives in its recommendations, directed towards tackling any structural issues and building up the skills base that will support the continued success of the Irish economy in the post-Brexit trading environment.
These include the successful implementation of the Government's ten year languages strategy, Languages Connect, the enhancement of intercultural skills, in particular through the boosting of international graduate mobility opportunities and an increase in Irish participation in the Erasmus+ programme, as set out in the International Education Strategy; and an increase in the pool of product or service design and development skills, key differentiators in international markets, through the successful implementation of Innovation 2020, the STEM Education Policy Statement, 2017-2026 and Technology Skills 2022.
A key longer term recommendation was for the establishment of a Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group, to be composed of logistics and supply chain industry stakeholders and education and training representatives, which would work to support the promotion of careers, skills development and sustainable development in logistics and supply chain activities.
Officials from my Department have worked closely with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport- which will chair this group- and logistics and supply chain stakeholders, on its establishment, and its is anticipated that a work programme will be agreed upon and the group formally established in the coming months.
Through cross industry collaboration the group will work to improve the profile of logistics and supply chain roles, making it easier to recruit talent; make progression pathways available to those entering or already working in the roles; ensure development opportunities are available to provide the skills, knowledge, and competencies required; enhance employee retention; and provide a forum for ongoing communication and leadership by logistics and supply chain stakeholders in addressing the skills needs of these activities in Ireland.