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Mind the skills gap - how planning for people can futureproof your firm

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'Skilled, innovative teams are critical to the success of any business.'

'Skilled, innovative teams are critical to the success of any business.'

'Skilled, innovative teams are critical to the success of any business.'

Passion, planning and people are the three 'Ps' that many business owners attribute their success to and, for many, having the right people is the most important.

Skilled, innovative teams are critical to the success of any business. And for businesses looking to grow it is imperative that they anticipate and plan for the future skills needs in their sector.

In short, how do you mind the skills gap?

Enterprise Ireland has long sought to identify skills trends and to help our indigenous companies plan for future needs to keep our sectors competitive in the global market.

One of the key offers available to our client companies, and those with the backing of Údarás or their Local Enterprise Office, has been our Spotlight On Skills programme. The programme is run by Enterprise Ireland in partnership with the Irish Management Institute and the Department of Education and Skills. The course is designed for senior management team members and enables businesses to create a company skills plan to identify and address their skills needs, a vital component of any plan to achieve growth.

It is a programme that has made a real difference to the management team at diagnostic reagent manufacturer Aalto Bio Reagents, which has seen demand soar for its products needed for Covid-19 testing.

"Aalto Bio is experiencing double-digit growth at present and as we expand adding new hires is key to our current and future strategy," said managing director, Philip Noone.

"Having participated in the Spotlight On Skills programme we now have a fluid strategic hire plan in place specifically looking at our skills gap with a clear plan in place to hire the required employees," Mr Noone added.

The Spotlight On Skills programme, fully funded by Enterprise Ireland, sees management teams use online workshops together with one-on-one skills consultant support from the Irish Management Institute and a web app tool kit, to develop an actionable plan to identify critical skills needs and Regional Skills Forum Manager support to address those needs.

It is suitable for companies with a clear business strategy and growth plan. The programme will help companies address their skills needs, build capacity and achieve strategic growth. This next programme begins on September 16 and we anticipate that approximately 400 Irish firms will take part in the upcoming Spotlight on Skills Workshops.

Previous participants have included Intuity Technologies, is a rapidly growing managed IT and managed print services provider.

"Participating in the Spotlight on Skills Programme provided an opportunity for us to look strategically at our diverse workforce requirements now and into the future ensuring our talent management strategies are aligning to our long-term business goals," said Aoife McNena, Head of HR, at Intuity Technologies

Agile businesses don't just see new market opportunities, they put in place strategies, including skills strategies, that ensure they can compete and win in new markets.

Talented, innovative teams are critical in winning new business and establishing a market-leading reputation.

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In construction, the demand, particularly for new-build data centres throughout Europe has seen some Irish firms pivot to take advantage, such as Collen Construction.

Collen's International Business Manager Barry King saw the emerging opportunities for his firm and moved to embed the skills necessary to win new customers.

"Engaging with great people during Spotlight on Skills, has given me the confidence, focus and vision to identify and address critical skills needed, to leverage key stakeholders in building stronger relationships to maximise growth in Ireland and across Europe for Collen," said King.

It is clear that new opportunities require new skills and Enterprise Ireland remains at the heart of planning to ensuring Irish companies are equipped to meet those challenges.

After all, if you don't mind the gap, chances are you'll be left behind.

Helen McMahon is Senior Executive, Client Skills, Enterprise Ireland


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