New NI Chamber & NIE Networks forum to tackle the skills challenge

28th Sep 2020

NI Chamber and Northern Ireland Electricity Networks recently launched a new forum to provide members with an opportunity to feed into the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland.

The Future of Skills forum addresses the skills-related challenges facing businesses here, assessing what local employers are already doing to combat the skills shortage and considering what more must be done to facilitate economic recovery and growth.

A series of sessions are planned, at which attendees will have the opportunity to share their own experiences and contribute to recommendations made to the Department for the Economy on the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland.

Over 40 members attended the first event with guest speakers Gerry Kindlon (Head of Government Relations Europe at Seagate Technology) and Mark Gubbins (R&D Director at Seagate Technology) who shared the actions they have taken on skills, which have helped position them as a market leader. Graeme Wilkinson, Director of Skills for the Department for the Economy, also joined the event to provide an update on the skills strategy and what this means for business.

Commenting on the launch of the series, Ian Henry, President, NI Chamber said:

“Access to skills is one of the single biggest barriers to business growth in Northern Ireland and has been for some time. It was a significant issue prior to COVID-19 and the pandemic, coupled with the ending of the Brexit transition period means that the need to address it has never been more urgent.

“It’s a growing problem which impacts businesses across all sectors, from IT to agri-food, the professions and manufacturers. If your business is in any way affected or indeed, has an experience to share, please get involved and make your contribution heard. This is a really important opportunity for local businesses to shape recommendations which will significantly impact how we do business now and crucially, how we prepare our economy for future prosperity.”

Gordon Parkes, HR Director for NIE Networks, added:

“NIE Networks is very proud to sponsor the Future of Skills series and contribute to the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland which will be a central factor in driving our economic recovery.

“As a company we offer a range of career opportunities, including apprenticeships and graduate trainee programmes, which are focused on connecting talented young people with skills opportunities they may not have previously considered. Utilising our own experiences we want to encourage other businesses to unlock the skills pool we have and invest further as now, more than ever, a proactive approach is fundamental in ensuring Northern Ireland has the skills needed for the future, not just in the energy sector but across the board.”

NI Chamber members can now register for the second event in the series, which takes place online on Friday 23 October 2020. The session, which will be chaired by John Healy, Managing Director at Allstate NI, will feature contributions from Gillian McAuley, Group HR Director at Devenish Nutrition, Sinead Carville, Chief Human Resources Officer at FinTrU and Lisa Sweeney, Head of People and Culture at Neueda.

Register for the next event now: