NI Chamber launches new forum to tackle the skills challenge

7th Sep 2020

Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) has today (7 September) launched a new forum to provide members with an opportunity to feed into the new Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland.

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

A series of regional sessions will be held in partnership with Northern Ireland Electricity Networks, 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.

The first such event will be hosted online on Friday 18 September 2020 and will be chaired by John Healy, Managing Director at Allstate NI. Gerry Kindlon, Head of Government Relations Europe at Seagate Technology and Mark Gubbins, R&D Director, also at Seagate Technology, will share the actions they have taken on skills, which have helped position them as a market leader. In addition,

Graeme Wilkinson, Director of Skills for the Department for the Economy will provide an update on the skills strategy and what this means for business.

Speaking ahead of the first event, 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 focussed 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.”