Education News

Year of Skills Launched With Publication of OECD Report

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins have launched the 2023 European Year of Skills in Ireland with the publication of the OECD Ireland Skills Strategy Report.

The findings from the OECD include:

  • The share of young adults with a tertiary degree is significantly above the OECD average.
  • However, many Irish adults are at risk of falling behind as they do not have the right skills to thrive in their current employment and are unprepared for changes in the world of work.
  • In addition, participation in lifelong learning to facilitate essential reskilling and upskilling in Ireland, while above the EU average, falls far behind top EU performers.
  • Irish employers express significant concern about labour and skills gaps.
  • Significant investment in skills, including supports for management capabilities and adoption of high performance work practices, is the essential ingredient to ensure that SMEs across Ireland can increase productivity, innovation and competitiveness.

Minister Harris said, “the change in our professional and personal lives is not going to cease. Whether it’s digitisation of society or other trends we live with, like climate adaptation, the pace of transformation will only increase. We have a short window of opportunity to ensure that these transformations lead to a new age of good work, good jobs and improved quality of life for all. We must work together to achieve this. I will report back to Government shortly on the next steps including the need to consider a new Skills Act.”

Minister of State Niall Collins added, “in a learning culture, skills are a top, strategic priority. They are assessed, worked on and renewed all the time, with everyone taking responsibility for skills – both individually and within enterprise.”

OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said, “a strong focus on skills has been central to Ireland’s strong economic performance and improvements in well-being. However, there are significant challenges ahead with labour shortages, slowing productivity growth and the need to successfully navigate the skills implications of the green and digital transformation of our economies, while dealing with the impact of population ageing. Ireland can and must build on its strengths by better balancing skills demand and supply, by fostering greater participation in lifelong learning, leveraging skills to drive innovation, and strengthening skills governance.”

The Year of Skills represents a call to action for Ireland, to work together to address the global challenge represented by the scale and pace of change in the world of work. Learning as we know it has changed to meet these challenges.

The focus of the European Year of Skills is lifelong learning.

This means investing and empowering people on their learning and development journeys, helping them get the right skills for the right jobs.

Minister Harris is calling on everyone in Ireland to put skills at the centre for this year – and to take the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Funding is available to support a wide range of upskilling and reskilling initiatives that meet the demands of a changing world, address skills shortages and contribute to the digital and green economy.

Minister Harris said, “the challenge is set, and I know we will rise to it this year. We have form on this. We are a people with the capacity for change. We have always been an island of learning, a country of creativity, a skill so crucial for the future world, inside and outside work. Our young people are global role models. Our people are our gold, and we must invest in that resource with momentum and unabashed ambition. I issue a call to action to everyone to step up and engage in the new era of learning now upon us.”

OECD Skills Strategies provide a strategic and comprehensive approach to assess countries’ skills challenges and opportunities and build more effective skills systems. The OECD works collaboratively with countries, states and regions to develop policy responses that are tailored to each one’s specific skills challenges and needs. The foundation of this approach is the OECD Skills Strategy framework, the components of which are:

  • Developing relevant skills over the life course.
  • Using skills effectively in work and in society.
  • Strengthening the governance of the skills system.

This project was led in Ireland by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in partnership with the OECD.

The project took the form of extensive policy analysis by the OECD and extensive stakeholder engagement on skills issues facing Ireland. There were four policy Priority Areas of the project:

  • Securing balance in skills through a responsive and diversified supply of skills.
  • Fostering greater participation in lifelong learning in and outside of the workplace.
  • Strengthening the governance across a joined-up skills ecosystem.
  • Leveraging skills to drive innovation and strengthen the performance of firm.

The project has been concluded with publication of the OECD report.

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