Paul Healy, chief executive, Skillnet Ireland (3rd right) pictured at the Shannon Chamber lunch event in Dromoland Castle Hotel with (from left): Dr Sarah Kieran, assistant Dean of the Academy at the Kemmy Business School, UL; Eoin Gavin, president and Helen Downes, chief executive, Shannon Chamber; Anthony Brennan, chief people officer, Atlantic Aviation Group; and Fiona Keogh, learning and organisational development manager at Analog Devices International. Photograph by Eamon Ward.
Technology has always been with us but what’s different today is the pace and speed at which new technologies are being developed leading to a requirement for continual upskilling to remain relevant.
This was one of the key messages delivered by Skillnet Ireland chief executive Paul Healy when he gave the keynote address at a Shannon Chamber luncheon in Dromoland Castle Hotel this week.
The luncheon, which was supported by Shannon Chamber Skillnet and Clare County Council, included a panel discussion on the benefits and returns of upskilling and talent development. The panellists included Dr Sarah Kieran, assistant Dean of the Academy at the Kemmy Business School, UL, Fiona Keogh, learning and organisational development manager at Analog Devices International, and Anthony Brennan, chief people officer at Atlantic Aviation Group.
Students from St Patrick’s Comprehensive School and St Caimin’s Community School in Shannon were invited to the lunch to give them an appreciation of the skill types now being sought by enterprise.
Zoning in on the key areas that Skillnet Ireland is encouraging its 70 plus Skillnet business networks to frame their talent development initiatives on, Mr Healy singled out digital transformation, the green economy, innovation, and powering the foreign direct sector for specific focus.
With Ireland ranked fifth in the Digital Economy and Society Index, for progress made in developing human capital, connectivity, the integration of digital technology and the digitisation of public services, Mr Healy said that there are areas in which Ireland can do better.
“More work needs to be done in the digital transformation of our SME sector. Less complex technology jobs are moving and this movement in the labour market means that it no longer enough to produce technology graduates; companies and their employees need to upskill to remain relevant,” he said.
Turning his attention to the green economy, Mr Healy said that Government and state funding won’t be sufficient to tackle the green transition.
“It will require trillions of euros of private sector investment, and this will present great opportunities for green collar jobs. Developing capability in green occupations will be a key focus of our Skillnet business networks,” he added.
Addressing gaps that may need to be addressed when framing skills development programmes, Mr Healy singled out digital divide and the growing gap between SMEs and companies in the foreign direct investment sector as warranting particular attention.
“There are tech savvy and tech comfortable people in every company, but some are still struggling with digital skills. We must close that gap and ensure that no-one is left behind. We must also find a way to enable multinational companies and SMEs to co-create. That’s a particular focus of Skillnet Ireland,” he said.
All panellists speaking at the luncheon agreed that businesses can only grow if they attract and retain talent and that’s why most companies initiate career development programmes for their employees to enable them build on the initial learning they acquired prior to entering employment.
All had interacted with Skillnet business networks describing the programmes offered as agile and complementary to those offered by third-level colleges. All agreed that while technical and engineering skills need to be accredited, the need for certification as an employee progresses through an organisation is less relevant.
Describing leadership, cognitive and relationship skills as innate and best developed as an employee progresses through a company, the panellists concurred that accreditation does not have to be a degree, it can be knowledge acquired via micro credentials or thorough self-paced learning.
Shannon Chamber chief executive Helen Downes was energised after the lunch and looking forward to submitting a three-year funding application to Skillnet Ireland to enable the Chamber’s Skillnet business network to deliver a comprehensive suite of upskilling programme to its 320 plus companies between 2023 and 2025.
“We have witnessed an increasing interest in talent development within our member companies. The feedback we received from a recent facilitated workshop on training needs within enterprise points to an increasing need for human skills development as employees assimilate into organisations. We are now working on devising and rolling out a suite of training programmes to respond to these needs,” Ms Downes added.
Full details on all Shannon Chamber Skillnet programmes can be found at https://shannonchamberskillnet.com
Leaving certificate students from St Patrick’s Comprehensive School in Shannon – Emma O’Connor, Freya McFaul, Declan Ross, Rory Hyunh and Aoife McNelis met with Skillnet Ireland chief executive Paul Healy during his visit to Dromoland to discuss their career paths in engineering, chemistry, cyber security and teaching. Also in the photo are Alan Kelly, manager, Shannon Chamber Skillnet and Anika Schous, career guidance counsellor. Photograph by Eamon Ward.
Pictured at Dromoland Castle Hotel for the Chamber lunch from left): Linda Earlie, senior enterprise development officer, Clare County Council (luncheon sponsor); Eoin Gavin, president and Helen Downes, chief executive, Shannon Chamber; Paul Healy, chief executive, Skillnet Ireland; and Patricia O’Neill, Clare County Council. Photo by Eamon Ward.
Pupils Julia Chromicz, Ailbhe O’Grady, Patryk Adamski, Keenan Keyes and Rian Sloan, from St Caimin’s Community School in Shannon, pictured with Helen Downes, chief executive, Shannon Chamber; Paul Healy, chief executive, Skillnet Ireland; Alan Kelly, manager, Shannon Chamber Skillnet and Fiona Christie, career guidance counsellor with St. Caimin’s. Photo by Eamon Ward.