Government launches skills strategy report as dawn of Brexit looms

14 Jun 2018

Clermont Carn, Co Louth. Image: Pavel_Voitukovic/Shutterstock

As Irish-based businesses express worry about the future post-Brexit, the Government launches a report responding to skills gaps in an array of industries.

Two years on from the UK’s decision to exit the European Union, many of the implications of that choice have yet to materialise, particularly for Irish businesses.

The Irish Government today (14 June) launched a report outlining skills that Irish industries may need in order to mitigate the potential impact a hard Brexit could have.

The study noted that a potentially more restrictive trading environment is looking like a strong possibility. It was carried out through a consultation process across five internationally trading sectors: agri-food, high-value manufacturing, construction products and services, health and life sciences, and logistics and supply chain activities.

An effective response to Brexit

At the launch of the report, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, said: “As a government, we are working hard to ensure that our enterprise base can effectively respond to Brexit through enhancing its capacity to compete, innovate and trade. It goes without saying that this will require enterprises to have access to the appropriate skillsets.”

The study found eight specific recommendations, with 46 associated sub-actions, which are both long- and short-term in nature. It found that the Irish tech sector is “generally less reliant on the UK as a key market and less still as a land-bridge function as the value is high but the volume is low”.

Other industries, such as freight and logistics and agri-food, are more exposed to the threat of a hard Brexit. In terms of health and life sciences, the competitive nature of the sector means upskilling is already an integral element. The freight industry faces various issues, from a lack of customs clearance expertise and regulatory divergence, to the relative lack of preparedness exhibited by SMEs in the sector.

The report also noted that the education and training currently available can be marketed in more efficient ways in order for industries to become more aware of opportunities that can be taken advantage of.

The eight recommendations

  • Launch an intensified industry awareness and outreach campaign to enhance understanding among internationally trading enterprises and to address the skills needs arising from Brexit.
  • Build additional customs awareness and foster higher-level customs clearance training.
  • Boost the provision of financial management advice, training and mentoring for businesses that trade internationally, with a particular focus on currency management, VAT and contract management.
  • Create targeted campaigns to attract skilled personnel from overseas.
  • Take steps to enhance the ability to diversify trade with non-UK markets, including enhancing international trading as well as supply chain and logistics content in education and training provision; building up foreign language capabilities; enhancement of intercultural awareness and international business experience; and building up product design and development skills.
  • Establish a skills group for logistics and supply chain to manage a coordinated response from these sectors to promote them and their skills needs.
  • Develop a schools or communication toolkit and awareness-raising campaigns for logistics, supply chain and transportation careers across all sectors; and an improved understanding of the cross-sectoral skills needs, employment numbers and career opportunities in supply chain activities.
  • Support the development of, and promote the roll-out of and engagement with, the logistics and service apprenticeship programmes.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects