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Ministers Humphreys and Bruton launch EGFSN report on Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit

Date: 14 June 2018 

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, and the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, today (14th of June) launched a new report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) on Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit.

This report, which focusses on Irish-based enterprise, forms part of the whole-of-government response to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. It identifies the potential skills needs of internationally-trading businesses and the main occupations in the wider Freight Transport, Distribution and Logistics (FTDL) sector. The aim of the exercise is to mitigate the impact of a Hard Brexit scenario and avail of any opportunities that arise within the scope of the study.

The report deals specifically with those skillsets required for enterprise to navigate a potentially more restrictive trading environment vis-à-vis the UK (e.g. customs clearance, logistics, supply chain management), and to facilitate the diversification of trade to non-UK markets (international management, sales, marketing, design and development, foreign languages, cultural awareness).

The study was informed by a comprehensive consultation exercise with enterprises and key informants across five internationally trading sectors (agri-food, health life sciences, technology, high value manufacturing, construction products and services), and logistics and supply chain activities on the likely impact of Brexit on their business. The report also examines:

  • Responses to Brexit to date elsewhere within the EU-27, as a source of policy learning for Ireland;
  • The likely demand for logistics and supply chain roles under a number of Brexit related scenarios; and
  • Current education and training provision relevant to international trade, as well as logistics and supply chain activities.

Drawing on this research and analysis, the report makes eight recommendations, with 46 associated sub-actions, directed towards enhancing the pool of trade-related skills available to Irish-based enterprise, and hence their resilience in the face of Brexit. These actions, which are both short and longer term in nature, were developed by a broadly based Steering Group established to guide the progress of the study. This group was representative of key internationally trading and skills development stakeholders from across the public and private sectors.

Launching the report, Minister Humphreys said:

“This report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs is a timely and important contribution to the evidence base on Brexit and the Government’s wider contingency planning. As a Government, we are working hard to ensure that our enterprise base can effectively respond to Brexit through enhancing its capacity to compete, innovate and trade. It goes without saying that this will require enterprises to have access to the appropriate skillsets. This report highlights the impact Brexit will have on enterprises across all sectors, and how it will increase the need for skills in areas such as customs clearance, logistics, supply chain management, financial management, and for diversifying trade into new markets. My officials will now engage with the stakeholders identified in the report to progress the EGFSN’s recommendations, and the preparedness of businesses for the challenges of Brexit.”

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton said:

“As Minister for Education and Skills, as well as Chair of the National Skills Council, I welcome this Expert Group on Future Skills Needs report as a vital contribution to the Government’s preparations for Brexit. The National Skills Council is tasked with prioritising skills needs related to strategic national challenges, and securing their delivery through the education and training system. Drawing on the findings of this report, the Council, my Department, and the wider education and training system will do all it can to support the preparedness of the enterprise base to ensure it can effectively diversify its trade, and navigate a potentially more complex trading environment vis-à-vis the UK. We have, for example, a Foreign Languages Strategy, which I launched at the end of last year. This key strategic policy includes targeted measures to improve fluency and increase the number of languages taught.”

Chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Skills Need, Tony Donohoe, said:

“This Expert Group on Future Skills Needs report, commissioned by the Government to inform its skills response to Brexit, was informed by a comprehensive research exercise across the international trading and logistics and supply chain sectors. This engagement has informed a set of recommendations for addressing the diverse skills needs identified in the study, and which, as the report highlights, will require the full commitment and collaboration of all stakeholders in the economy for their successful implementation. As well as the important contribution to be made by the State and its enterprise agencies, industry itself will also have to ensure a proactive approach to enhancing its preparedness and resilience from a skills perspective. The EGFSN welcomes the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s intention to formally pursue the implementation of the report’s recommendations”.

The full report can be read here.