Skills Connect a rapid response to Covid-19 reskilling needs
Skillnet Ireland initiative supports workers who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic
Skillnet Ireland executive director Dave Flynn says more than 300 companies have signed up for Skills Connect already.
More than 2,000 people are set to benefit from Skills Connect, the new Skillnet Ireland initiative that facilitates the rapid upskilling and reskilling of workers most impacted by Covid-19. “Skills Connect has been designed in partnership with companies to support workers who have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19,” says Skillnet Ireland executive director Dave Flynn.
The programme offers a suite of free virtual tailored upskilling and training solutions with industry-based work placements that are aimed at supporting people to quickly re-enter the workforce in their sector, or to access job opportunities in new sectors through innovative conversion courses.
“More than 300 companies have signed up for it already,” he continues. “It is particularly aimed at workers in the sectors which have been most impacted by Covid-19, including hospitality, tourism, retail and so on. It will provide opportunities to move into sectors with growth potential, including healthcare, transport and logistics, food and the green economy.”
The initiative is built around matching training to employment opportunities, according to Skillnet Ireland development adviser Caoimhe O’Donnell. “It offers individuals the opportunity to rapidly develop new skills, build confidence and access valuable on-the-job training by participating in programmes designed by Skillnet Networks around the country,” she says. “Ultimately, the livelihoods of the employees who have lost their jobs is most important. We have received a wide variety of proposals from Skillnet Networks around the country for innovative training interventions that address skills gaps in sectors that are growing.”
Some of these programmes are already up and running. “Skills Connect is about rapid upskilling,” says Flynn. “Speed of response is critically important. Several programmes are already under way. And we are rolling out others at the moment. The Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet Future in Tech programme is one. It gives people with limited or no experience of that industry the skills to get into it. It focuses on cloud, IT support, network administration, digital marketing, cybersecurity, software programming and web-development skills. Against the backdrop of digital transformation, such skills are increasingly required across many industries in Ireland.
“People who participate in the programme will get an industry recognised certificate while participating companies have signed up to provide mentoring, virtual industry placement and other supports,” Flynn adds. “The programme aims to support more than 200 participants.”
O’Donnell points to the Irish medtech Skillnet programme as an example of an initiative which addresses differing issues within the same broad sector. “As part of its strategy to prepare the medtech sector for the digitalisation of manufacturing in a regulated environment, the Irish medtech Skillnet supports the medical technology sector as well as companies within the broader medtech supply chain,” she explains. “This includes the polymer, electronic and engineering subsupply sectors, where companies have been adversely impacted by the pandemic.”
The programme addresses the needs of workers who may be losing their jobs in the subsupply area on the one hand, and meets the talent needs of the upstream medtech manufacturers on the other. “The Irish medtech Skillnet has designed a brilliant intervention in partnership with member companies,” says O’Donnell. “The new conversion programmes will provide upskilling and reskilling in areas such as the digitalisation of manufacturing, quality systems, regulatory affairs, advanced statistics and continuous improvement in manufacturing. Over 30 companies are participating in these programmes which will enable impacted workers to avail of career opportunities with medtech companies.”
The Irish medtech Skillnet is also providing participants with industry placements and mentoring, alongside CV writing and interview skills.
Once again, the speed of the intervention is critically important. “Rapid upskilling is really important for employees who are facing a definite exit date from their current roles and are anxious to reskill as quickly as possible,” O’Donnell emphasises. “We are helping them to reskill and pivot to where the new jobs will be.”
The duration of the programmes varies but not are longer than three months, according to Flynn. “It ranges across the 24 Skillnet networks. Some are longer and can last up to three months for full conversion to a new sector, but the majority are short, sharp interventions of one or two months.”
Anyone wishing to take part in one of the programmes should go contact Skillnet Ireland. “If someone from the hotel sector or another industry affected by Covid-19 is wondering about the opportunities and how to avail of them, they should contact us and we will put them in touch with the Skillnet network which is the best fit for them,” says O’Donnell.