The Mid-West is acting early to avoid a skills shortage by launching launch a multi-layered recruitment campaign to meet the unprecedented flow of job creation into the region.
With 3,000 jobs to fill over the next three years in technology and engineering alone, a forum led by the Mid-West Regional Skills and the IDA has taken the first steps towards ensuring the required skills are available to FDI and indigenous companies embarking on major recruitment drives in the region.
The forum has had its inaugural gathering of industry leaders, including multinational and indigenous companies embarking on recruitment programmes, education providers – University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology and Education Training Board – and upskilling programme providers from the departments of Social Protection and Education to explore ways to ensure the necessary skills are available over the coming years.
The event, which was supported also by the voluntary IT skills promotion organisation ‘Limerick for IT’, included addresses by skills providers and employers who have already successfully engaged recruitment campaigns.
Speaking at the event, Orlaith Borthwick, Manager of Mid-West Regional Skills– a department of education & skills initiative aimed at ensuring educational skills supply are meeting enterprise talent demand – said that the region has to act promptly to avoid any skills shortage down the road.
“We are taking a ‘stitch in time’ approach here because of the rate of skilled jobs being created here. Thankfully there’s no sign of it relenting but we must put measures in place now to ensure we attract sufficient skills here to fill all these posts.
“Right now we see it as an opportunity but it could very quickly become a difficult challenge if we don’t put measures in place. Our first gathering was all about exploring what those measures will be but they will be multi-faceted. We are forward planning to make sure we have that skills pipeline,” she said.
“We need to target people from the other Irish regions, particularly Dublin, who are fed up of spending hours daily in cars or the cost of living. There are opportunities in this region, there’s a quality of life in this region and it’s an affordable and exciting place to live.
“What we will be saying to people who emigrated as they come home this Christmas is that this could be their last time returning to Ireland. They can now stay and get an exciting job in fast paced industries. They don’t now need to get on a plane after Christmas and head back out to the UK, US, Australia or elsewhere.”
IDA Mid-West Regional Manager Niall O’Callaghan said that the unique industry-third level partnership in the region will help bolster it against any skills shortage. “Over the last 18 months we have had the most significant period of investment into the Mid-West region from an IDA Ireland perspective. We have bene hugely successful in not only increasing the numbers of investment from new companies coming into the region but also our existing client company base,” he said.
“Foreign direct investment is an international competition and a lot of cities and regions will tell you they work closely with third level institutes and universities. But what’s unique in this region, we firmly believe, is the cohesiveness between UL, LIT and industry. We are seeing that with this forum, where all are represented in the room, communicating their needs and ensuring they are met so that we have the skills we require to satisfy the skills needs ahead.”
One company, Optel Vision, which is recruiting up to 150 people over the next two years, said that the forum will be hugely beneficial in terms of the sharing of information and experience around recruitment programmes. “It is important to have this forum to determine what the skills requirements are and how we develop them with the educational organisations or any of the training forums available,” said Timmy Hayes, HR Manager at Optel Vision, Limerick.
Said John Gleeson, Project Manager Information Technology at General Motors and Limerick for IT representative: “The opportunities are endless and the needs are huge. What we have to make sure is how we address this. What we are trying to do within this group is develop the skills and stay top of the class. We want to win as a region.”