News & Events

Minister Humphreys welcomes Enterprise Ireland as first partner, benefiting 300 companies by end of 2018

Minister Bruton launches skills audit tool & supports to help business identify skill needs   

A further 300 non EI employers will participate by end 2018

Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Education and Skills will today launch a new skills audit tool and extra supports which will make it easier for employers to identify their skill needs. Minister Humphreys will announce that 300 employers in association with Enterprise Ireland will be first to participate in the initiative.  

Minister Bruton has set the ambition to make Ireland’s Education Service the Best in Europe within a decade. Fulfilling the skill needs of the economy and ensuring that we are ‘future proofed’ to manage future skill needs, is an important part of delivering on this ambition.

“Skills for Growth” is a package of supports for employers to help them understand and plan for their skill needs. Each employer who participates in the programme will be given:

  • Access to a new skills audit tool to capture robust and consistent data on the skill needs of their business
  • One on one assistance from a Regional Skills Forum Manager to use this tool and plan for the future

Once skill needs have been identified, Regional Skills Fora will link companies with the education and training providers best suited to responding to their skills needs.

In working with enterprise and education providers in this way, Regional Skills Fora will be able to build a more complete picture of both regional and national skills needs, contributing towards a more robust national response to future skill needs. It is planned that as the project is extended, further education and training providers will also become involved in using the new skills audit tool.

Enterprise Ireland will be the first to participate in the initiative, bringing 300 employers on board immediately. As part of their involvement, Enterprise Ireland are running a series of “Spotlight on Skills” tailored workshops for their client companies, to enable them to think strategically about the skills they need to grow and develop and to give them the language to articulate these needs.  A further 300 non – Enterprise Ireland employers will be brought into the programme by end 2018.

Announcing “Skills for Growth”, Minister Bruton said, “Ensuring we are planning for the future skill needs of our economy is so important to delivering on our ambitions as a nation. The “Skills for Growth” initiative is a fantastic development which will greatly enhance the ability of our Regional Skills Fora to identify and indeed respond to these skills needs. If we want to be the best in Europe, we must ensure that the partnerships and links between the education system and enterprise are strong and continuously improved. I’m delighted that Enterprise Ireland are our first partners and I thank all those involved in bringing this together.”

Announcing Enterprise Ireland’s involvement and welcoming the Spotlight on Skills workshops, Minister Humphreys said, “Regional development is a key focus for me and “Spotlight on Skills” is particularly welcome as it will see Enterprise Ireland run workshops across the country with the support of the Regional EI offices and the Regional Skills Managers.  The workshops, which will be delivered in collaboration with the Irish Management Institute, are very practical and designed specifically to meet the needs of Irish companies seeking to grow their businesses.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “Enterprise Ireland client companies employ over 200,000 people right across the country, and the growth and development of these companies will be influenced by having access to necessary skills. Our practical “Spotlight on Skills” workshops will allow Enterprise Ireland clients and LEO companies to strategically look at the critical skills they need for business growth. Having developed company skills plans, the Regional Skills Fora will work with our client companies and the education and training sector to respond to the skills needs of companies. This focused approach is an important part of our enterprise development, and we look forward to working with the Department of Education and Skills and the Regional Skills Fora in supporting our companies on how best to address their skills challenges.” 


Notes to Editor  

Regional Skills Fora

To help foster stronger links between employers and the education and training sector, in 2016 Minister Bruton established a network of 9 Regional Skills Fora each with a Regional Skills Forum Manager. The Fora have been established to align with wider Government policy and initiatives on regional economic development, including the Regional Action Plans for Jobs.

Since the establishment of the Regional Skills Fora last year there is already a greater focus on strengthening and establishing positive relationships between employers and the education and training system in the different regions. The Fora are engaging with a broad range of sectors, particularly high skilled manufacturing and ICT. Over 60% of engagement to date in 2017 is with SMEs, with an increasing level of engagement with micro enterprises.

An important part of the development of the “Skills for Growth” initiative was the partners that came together as part of the process. The Skills and Labour Market Research Unit of SOLAS, the HEA, the Higher Education Institutions that are part of the Mid-East North Dublin (MEND) cluster, Enterprise Ireland, the All Ireland Research Observatory (AIRO) and the Department of Education and Skills. 

Membership of Regional Skills Fora

Public bodies:

Education and Training Providers (ETBs, IoTs, Universities, Skillnets), Enterprise agencies (EI, IDA, LEOs), Local authorities, INTREO. Various Government Departments and Agencies


Representatives of enterprise and employers in each region (individual employers and /or rep bodies including IBEC, Chambers/ professional bodies). 

Purpose of the Initiative

The purpose of the Skills for Growth Initiative is to increase the quality and quantity of data available on skills needs in individual enterprises, to allow for enhanced engagement between enterprise, education and training providers and other relevant members of Regional Skills Fora nationally.

This is an innovative collaborative programme led by the Department of Education and Skills and Enterprise Ireland, working in partnership with Regional Skills Fora Managers, SOLAS, AIRO, MEND and the HEA.

Operation of the Skills for Growth Initiative

Data will be collected at individual company level by the Regional Skills Fora Managers using a tool created by DES in conjunction with the Skills and Labour Market research Unit in Solas and Regional Skills Fora managers. This tool will enable granular data on skills needs to be collected and processed. The same data will also be gathered on an ongoing basis from non EI clients that engage with RSFMs and will be used to build regional information.

The data collected from individual enterprises will be processed by Solas using the appropriate classification, NACE codes (a pan-European classification system which groups organisations according to their business activities) and as such, it can be compiled into data reports. It will, allow for the development of a new layer of granular skills needs data that was previously unavailable.

Following its processing by Solas the data will also be provided to AIRO in order to create a detailed map of skills needs.

The key partners on the project are Department of Education and Skills, Enterprise Ireland (supported by the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation), Regional Skills Fora, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in Solas, HEA, MEND (DCU, Maynooth University, AIT and DKIT) and AIRO (All-Ireland Research Observatory, involved in National Planning framework to provide mapping on housing, transport and social infrastructure requirements).

Enterprise Ireland- Spotlight on Skills

As part of the Skills for Growth project, Enterprise Ireland is providing tailored workshops delivered by IMI to client companies. Spotlight on Skills is the title for these workshops. The focus of the workshops is to enable companies to identify and articulate their skills for their company development. The output from these workshops will facilitate company engagement with the Regional Skills Fora.

Four workshops have taken place in the North East, Midlands, North West and Dublin with 40 companies attending, representing employment of over 4,000 people.

Following the completion of these workshops, the level of engagement of the companies with the workshop and data gathering process is being assessed by the Project partners. Subject to any alterations that may need to be made to the Enterprise Ireland workshops or the data collection process, the project will be rolled out nationally in Q1 2018. 

For further information contact Adeline Meagher, Press Office, Department of Education & Skills, Marlborough St, Dublin 1. Tel: +353 1 8892304,