Group calls for focus on skills for industry
Experts recommend up-skilling programme for 30,000 people employed in the food and drink sector who have low or no level of formal second level education.
11 December 2009
The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) said last month it has identified a number of skills challenges that would block the way to employment growth in the Irish food and drink sector. In a new report, the group makes recommendations as to how the problem can be addressed, and says the sector can continue to provide significant direct and indirect employment.
According to EGFSN, consumer trends towards health and wellness, sustainability and ethical concerns, as well as new regulation, technology, and the consolidation of the retail market, are the main change drivers in the industry today. These contribute to a number of skills challenges, specifically in the areas of international trade, supply chain management, operative skills, innovation, lean operations, commercial acumen, and leadership.
On releasing the report, Una Halligan, chairperson, EGFSN, commented: “Our research points to skills requirements at each end of the spectrum, particularly the importance of skills development for the lower-skilled. 30,000 of those employed in the food and beverage sector have low or no level of formal second level education and are a vulnerable group in the current economic climate.
“We are recommending an up-skilling programme for operatives and recognition of skills and competencies gained through on-the-job experience. The report also highlights a need for skills at management level, particularly supply chain management and leadership skills that can be addressed through programmes run by the state agencies.”
State agencies, including BIM, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, FÁS, Skillnets and Teagasc were identified as providing valuable training interventions. However, EGFSN proposes the establishment of an inter-agency, third level institute and industry forum to discuss and address ongoing skills, training and development needs of the industry. This would prevent duplication of education and training provision, and ensure better collaboration between industry stakeholders.