Welcome to the second issue of the Skills to Advance newsletter. In this issue, we will showcase how the ETBs have addressed the upskilling needs of vulnerable workers in response to Covid-19 and also highlight the innovative collaborations between ETBs and their enterprise partners in addressing upskilling during these difficult times.
Following a challenging year for everyone, we wish you all a peaceful Christmas and look forward to working with you in 2021.
Increased demand for upskilling through Skills to Advance was driven in part by Covid-19 with many employees recognising the need to upskill, not only to retain their current employment, but also to adapt their skills to the demands of the new working environment. Employers also realised the need for their employees to have the right skills at this critical time to allow for greater agility and flexibility as businesses re-open.
Since March 2020, the increase in the number of learners accessing on-line learning has been remarkable. This was facilitated by ETBs responding at speed to employee and employer needs, adapting blended and in-person training to on-line delivery. An additional factor was the expansion of access to SOLAS eCollege, an online learning management system providing training courses in digital, project management, programming and business.
Over 1,000 training programmes were delivered in 2020 by ETBs in every region across Ireland.
More than 8,500 employees benefitted from upskilling opportunities - well ahead of the target of 6,500.
Skills to Advance received a 17% uplift in budget for 2021 to expand the reach and impact of the initiative. The renewed focus will be to future-proof skills and provide relevant upskilling and reskilling opportunities for business and vulnerable employees. This investment will support a sustainable recovery for business.
Innovation Through Collaboration
The Innovation through Collaboration Fund, 2019-2021, was created to embed innovation in the delivery of the Skills to Advance initiative. The selected 10 innovation projects are cultivating strategic alliances across ETBs, industry partners and enterprise stakeholders covering innovative design and delivery, recognition of prior learning (RPL) and enterprise engagement. One of those projects is M4CPD.
M4CPD - The Future of Work is People
The fourth industrial revolution - Industry 4.0 - is changing the world of manufacturing, causing a mismatch between the current skills of workers and the new skills needed for the future.
M4CPD is an exciting response to Industry 4.0 by Kildare and Wicklow ETB, in partnership with Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB and Fastrack to Information Technology (FIT). It involves collaboration with the Irish manufacturing industry to upskill existing and future entrants for tomorrow’s workplace. To empower job transition from declining to emerging areas, a Skills Needs Audit was carried out to determine the skills portfolios and career pathways required. Companies identified a need for modular training to upskill their employees, who are considered
vulnerable as their current skills sets are becoming outdated.
M4CPD prioritizes people at the centre of the innovation process, recognising their prior learning and experience and giving them enhanced job security and work opportunities in new fields. It counteracts job disruption in areas most likely to be automated.
This pilot project is designed to be scaled across the ETBs to meet the digitisation needs of the manufacturing sector.
Valuing You –boosting skills in the Auctioneering and Property Services sector
The property sector has experienced a drop in sales and construction output due to Covid-19, with lockdown restrictions, online sales and virtual viewings hampering growth.
A new upskilling initiative by City of Dublin ETB, Cork ETB and Galway and Roscommon ETB to support the sector’s recovery is due to commence in Spring 2021. The Valuing You online programme will assist businesses, in Auctioneering and Property Services, to invest in and develop their workforce to adapt to changes in technology, markets and work practices.
This initiative builds on strong links established between the ETBs and employer representative bodies including the Society of
Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI), the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) and the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), through the delivery of the Auctioneering and Property Services apprenticeship.
Valuing You will enhance the skillset of staff in customer service, human resources and digital marketing, preparing them to respond to an upturn in the market, add value and contribute directly to business recovery.
Donegal ETB keeping local tourism business on track
In the North West region, the tourism industry supports in excess of 29,000 jobs, attracting nearly 300,000 overseas visitors annually. Tourism jobs slumped by 25 per cent this year in Ireland compared to 2019, with the sector bearing the brunt of the impact of the pandemic.
During the first lockdown, it became evident to Donegal ETB that many local businesses needed to improve their social media presence to promote themselves online and connect with their customers.
Vinny McGroary, Donegal ETB Area Training Manager, explained, “Employers throughout Donegal had an opportunity to identify their training needs which enabled us to provide tailored, agile responses and we spent significant time in conversation with local
employers before deciding what programmes to deliver.”
The online Diploma in Social Media for Business has supported many employees to upskill in the use of digital promotional tools. Niall McCaughan, Donegal Railway Heritage Museum Manager said, “I knew a bit about social media, however, this course has given me a lot more practical knowledge which will be invaluable for our museum in the years ahead. I would highly recommend it to upskill ourselves and our organisations during these challenging times.”
Bespoke upskilling for Galway IT Solutions SME
Intuity Technologies, an IT solutions SME with a team of 70+ staff, started out in 1982 at the forefront of what was then Galway’s emerging technology sector.
The Employer Engagement team in Galway and Roscommon ETB (GRETB), following a referral from the West Regional Skills Forum Manager, began working with Intuity, as it was interested in upskilling its frontline staff through accredited training in customer service.
GRETB used their Learning Path Analysis tool to assess and identify the best fit in terms of training and developed a bespoke programme specific to the company’s needs. The NFQ Level 5 programme provided 20 employees in their Support and Sales teams with current, practical and usable skills to enhance their work performance and productivity.
Feedback from the employees showed a significant increase in customer service knowledge as well as enhanced skills in teamwork and managing customer expectations, all of which are now being applied by staff in the workplace.
Aoife McNena, Head of People and Culture at Intuity Technologies said “As a technology company providing a range of services to our clients, customer service is at the forefront of what we do. The accredited customer service training programme with GRETB supports the company with enhanced customer satisfaction and thereby higher customer retention. The training has a great impact on employee motivation and morale, which leads to increased productivity."
Like to contribute to our eNewsletter?
If your ETB has a story about a Skills to Advance programme and its participants or an event that you would like to see featured in the next issue of this eNewsletter please email [email protected] or [email protected] - the deadline for submissions to be considered for our February 2021 issue is 22nd January 2021.
Email us at [email protected] for any queries about Skills to Advance and your email will be passed to the relevant member of our team.