South East Regional Skills Forum ‘Open For Business’ To Help Employers
Representatives from the recently-established South East Regional Skills Forum (SERSF) have held their first meeting with Minister of State with responsibility for Training and Skills, John Halligan TD.
The event, at Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny, provided an opportunity for the SERSF to brief the Minister on the objectives of the Forum and its future plans for the development of the region. The SERSF is one of nine skills fora supported and funded by the Department of Education and Skills. The Regional Skills Fora have been established as part of the Government’s new architecture under the new National Skills Strategy which sets out the Government’s approach to identifying and meeting the skills needs of industry up to 2025.
The SERSF which covers Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford City, Waterford County and Wexford currently comprises representative from IT Carlow, Waterford IT, Tipperary ETB, Waterford/Wexford ETB, Kilkenny/Carlow ETB, Skillnets, LIT Tipperary. IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Waterford Chamber of Commerce, Local Enterprise Offices, IBEC, Wexford Chamber of Commerce, and Unum Ireland.
The SERSF provides an opportunity for local employers and the regional education and training providers to work together to meet the skills needs of their regions. The Forum has already started to identify the current and emerging skills needs in the south east. Whilst the Forum is concentrating initially on six sectoral areas in which it will identify skills needs and ensure timely training and education provision for the sectors which are: engineering; pharma; agri- food; business services/IT; design creation and tourism, the needs of other sectors will be supported where there has been an identified and definite skills deficit.
Speaking during the meeting, Minister Halligan welcomed the establishment of the Skills Forum and its potential to address both the identification of the local skills needs of enterprise and the current high level of unemployment in the South East. “ I’m delighted to see all the relevant education and training bodies coming together and strategically focusing on the skills needs of the region and sharing knowledge and experience”, said Minister Halligan.
The newly appointed SERSF Manager Mr Edmond Connolly called on employers in the region to engage with the Forum to ensure that their skills needs are being met. Edmond said, “We are ready and willing to engage with local employers throughout the region and will be meeting with them in the coming weeks and months. If the skills needs of your business are not currently being met, or if you are having difficulties in attracting the right skills, the Forum is here to help. In addition to individual planned initiatives on a sectoral basis, the Forum is focussed on addressing the current and future skills needs of the region. The challenges of attracting, retaining, reskilling and upskilling staff will also be a key focus of the Forum. There is substantial scope to promote education and training targeting specific jobs that are or will be available in the South East.
At today’s event, Dr Patricia Mulcahy, Chairperson of SERSF and President of Institute of Technology Carlow, welcomed Minister Halligan and introduced him to some of the forumrepresentatives including Professor Willie Donnelly, President of Waterford Institute of Technology; Ms Fionuala McGeever, CEO of Tipperary ETB; Mr Kevin Lewis, CEO of Waterford/Wexford ETB; Ms Cynthia Deane, CEO of Kilkenny/Carlow ETB; and Ciaran Lynch, Development Manager, Limerick Institute of Technology Tipperary. They were also joined by Mr Frank O’Regan, Chair of the South East Action Plan for Jobs and Mr Sean McKeown, Director of the South East Action Plan for Jobs, who will be working closely with the SERSF in the coming months.
Prior to his appointment as SERSF Manager, Edmond Connolly held the position of CEO of Macra Na Feirme for eight years and Edmond has also worked as assistant Chief Executive of South Tipperary County Enterprise Board and being native of the South East he understands the challenges facing local businesses as they seek to emerge from the recession and build on new opportunities.
Local employers in the south east can contact Edmond through the Regional Skills Website (www.regionalskills.ie) or at 087 8314729. The SERSF is looking forward to hearing from and engaging with local employers and supporting their skills needs. In this the Forum will also be working very closely with the South East Action Plan for Jobs.
For further information, visit www.regionalskills.ie