The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) advises Government on projected skills requirements in the economy and makes recommendations on how existing education and training systems and delivery mechanisms can be improved. The Group also advises on any skills requirements that cannot be met from within the Irish economy and so must be met through inward migration. Ensuring that the relevant authorities progress implementation plans is also central to the Group’s work.
The EGFSN is an independent non-statutory body with membership from Government Departments (Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Department of Education & Skills); Enterprise Development Agencies (Enterprise Ireland, Industrial Development Authority), Business, Unions, Further Education and Training (SOLAS), and the Higher Education Authority. The secretariat is based in the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, which provides the EGFSN with research and analysis support; the work is funded by the National Training Fund.
The Group undertakes a combination of both sectoral and thematic research studies. These are overseen by Steering Groups made up of stakeholders from enterprise and the education and training sectors. The Group also draws on the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU), based in Solas, for statistical analysis.
In 2018, the EGFSN published five reports: an Audit of Hospitality Courses in Further and Higher Education; a report on Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit; a report of the Hospitality Skills Oversight Group; a report on Digital Transformation: Assessing the Impact of Digitalisation on Ireland’s Workforce; and the EGFSN Annual Activity Statement for 2017.
So far in 2019, the Group has published a High-Level ICT Demand Forecast for the period 2017-2022 – which underpinned Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan, published by the Department of Education and Skills – and the EGFSN Annual Activity Statement for 2018. The reports are available online at www.skillsireland.ie.
Currently, the EGFSN secretariat is working on skills studies relating to the Construction Industry, SME Management Practices, and a follow-on study into enterprise demand for Design Skills. Additionally, the Group continues to monitor implementation of actions under, in particular, Technology Skills 2022, the Brexit Skills report, and the Winning by Design study (published in 2017).