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‘Future Proofing’ the Skills Base

Future proofing the skills base in MSW emerged as the top priority from our engagements with stakeholders when compiling the Regional Economic Strategy (RES). The analysis showed that skills and access to labour are both a major current and future constraint to growth and competitiveness in MSW.

Given our economy is near or at full employment, there is a need to intervene with actions to ensure that the right skills for the future are there in scale and profile to underpin our region’s ambitions. Interventions in this area must be strongly aligned to the ‘innovation pillar’ within the RES so that moves to embed technology and automation in the workplace will fundamentally change the skills needed in the future.

We are in a strong position to expedite skills projects through the industry-led structures which are already established in our region – the Mid Ulster Skills Forum and the ABC Local Works Forum – which have been established to bring a collaborative dynamic between local businesses, colleges/universities and industry sectoral bodies to address prevailing labour and skills challenges. Structures such as these and the Manufacturing & Engineering Growth & Advancement (MEGA) will provide key governance structures for advancing skills focussed interventions in the MSW.

We are planning to deliver a Mid South West Skills Action Plan. Potential actions/project concepts for further development and prioritisation within the plan include: Lobby for a differentiated and more flexible migration policy for MSW to keep economy open to all levels of international talent; change policy to allow the formation of more bespoke apprenticeship programmes in collaboration with Department for the Economy and FE Colleges; extend the range of higher-level apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships; focus on shared apprentice schemes; extend the scale and scope of management and leadership training; create initiatives which promote career attractiveness.

Our commitment is to address the challenges outlined above. Read more about our ambitions in the Regional Economic Strategy