– National Skills Council being reformed to include a broader range of stakeholders
The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has hosted the first annual forum with experts in the construction sector aimed at boosting participation in the construction workforce.
The Construction Sector Skills Forum (CSSF) is hosted by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
It is the first annual event to raise awareness and share ideas across the construction sector to ensure the government reaches its targets under Housing for All.
Minister Harris said: “It is vital that the entire sector works together to increase the construction workforce. It is essential to meeting the Housing for All targets set by the government.
“We have made significant progress in the past three years. Craft apprenticeship registrations for 2022 and 2021 were 13,254, an increase of almost 40% over the preceding two years. While this year alone, there have been 4,009 registrations on the 30 construction and construction-related programmes last month.
“But it is clear there is room for improvement, especially regarding female participation.”
Minister Harris added: “I am glad to see the figures improve each year and that around one in 20 construction apprentices are now female, but it is still far too low when you consider there are more than 4,000 apprentices registered on construction programmes.
“The numbers are going in the right direction each year, however, and I do believe that the rollout of modern methods of construction can fundamentally change how women perceive a career in the building industry and that over the coming years, we will see the numbers increase.”
Stakeholders such as Skillnet Ireland, the Construction Industry Federation, Laois-Offaly Education and Training Board, the National Apprenticeship Office, SOLAS and Government officials will use the forum to network, collaborate, and inform strategic developments for construction skills provision.
The announcement underlines the importance of a creative partnership-based approach to skills needs and policy development.
National Skills Council reform
The National Skills Council is being reformed following recommendations included in the OECD Skills Strategy Ireland Report so that a broader range of stakeholders can play a more significant role in shaping Ireland’s skills strategy policies.
Minister Harris said, “This reform is timely and will align the National Skills Council fully with advancements in Ireland’s ambitious skills agenda.
“I want to respond to our shared skills challenges in partnership with enterprise. We are modernising how we view skills in Ireland and putting skills at the centre of the political agenda so that we can ensure Ireland’s best asset continues to be our people.”
Minister Harris added: “In a world that is changing rapidly, and where skills needs are constantly evolving, Ireland’s social and economic prosperity is dependent like never before on our ability to adapt, and adapt quickly.
“The National Skills Council’s role in helping to shape and reshape Ireland’s skills policy priorities is vital to this end. But we cannot make or embed the far-reaching policy changes we need to drive our success without our enterprise partners.
“That is why I am calling on the enterprise community to join the new National Skills Council and ensure its voice is heard.”
Expressions of interest for positions on the National Skills Council for Enterprise Representatives must be submitted online no later than 6pm on Friday, 24 November 2023 and can be accessed via this link.