The Covid-19 pandemic has given us an insight into how external challenges can affect the workforce, and it certainly won’t be the last challenge Irish businesses face in the coming years due to digitisation and the sustainability agenda, not to mention Brexit. The new business environment will be one which will require a workforce that is highly adaptable and flexible. To ensure workers can achieve agility there is a real need for continuous upskilling and reskilling so employees can not only perform their current tasks to a high level, but also take on new work areas to sustain and grow business.
Skills to Advance is a policy initiative aimed at enhancing the skills of people in employment. Developed in 2018 by SOLAS (The Further Education and Training Authority) and the Department of Education and Skills, it has since been rolled out with the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) around the country.
Skill to Advance provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities, anticipating and responding to skill needs. It particularly targets those facing changes in their work due to technology advances, changing work practices and market diversification. Further education and training opportunities offered through Skills to Advance incorporate digital, socio-emotional and technical skills development to enhance employee skills and support increased productivity in Irish SMEs.
A key feature of Skills to Advance is its focus on sectors experiencing disruption or those with emerging opportunities. A recent example of a targeted sectoral approach is Developing Leaders for Hospitality and Tourism. To boost the retention and career progression of key talent, two dedicated programmes have been developed with the sector for team leaders and supervisory staff. Driven by the critical challenges now facing the industry, this new training initiative has been developed by SOLAS and the ETBs in collaboration with the IHF, Failte Ireland, and Regional Skills Fora.
Speaking at the launch of the programmes in February, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, TD, said: “Covid-19 has hit the hospitality and tourism sectors and those working in them extremely hard. These two programmes offer an opportunity for employees and employers to upskill and will help staff deal with the new business environment, its challenges and opportunities.”
To learn more about the opportunities available through Skills to Advance, for employees and employers across a wide range of business sectors, contact your local Education and Training Board – contact details for Skills to Advance coordinators in all regions can be found at www.skillstoadvance.ie. Members of the Skills to Advance team will also be available to answer questions at the SOLAS booth at The Business Show on 22 April.

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