Government wants to forge closer cross-border ties to fill skills gaps


The government wants universities and colleges on both sides of the border to forge closer ties to help fill skills gaps in critical areas of the economy.

Niall Collins, Minister of State for Skills and Continuing Education, said there were shortages of skilled workers in key sectors on the island of Ireland.

However, he said there were opportunities to deploy our skills, training and labor market across the island for the benefit of both sides of the border.

“While there is already strong cooperation and interaction between higher and higher education institutions and research institutions across the island, which the government is proud to support, we want to see this develop in the period to come, ”he said.

Mr. Collins was speaking at the latest Shared Island Dialogue event, launched by Taoiseach last year and aimed at fostering “constructive and inclusive dialogue” with all communities and traditions.

As an example of increased cooperation, he cited the government’s new plan to expand apprenticeship, which includes the development of new cross-border apprenticeship programs that could improve the ability of both jurisdictions to meet skill needs. , as the economy of the whole island.

Over 140 students, parents, teachers and education experts came together to discuss how access to education and academic performance on a shared island can be improved in the years to come.

The roundtables focused on improving accessibility to education, matching skills needs with opportunities and tackling poor school performance on the island.

Calls were made, for example, for students to have access to an Erasmus-type program that would allow them to study on both sides of the Irish border.

In addition, Letterkenny IT (LYIT) President Paul Hannigan highlighted how a cross-border group of educational institutions in the North West is improving access to education for residents.

The consortium – which includes LYIT, the University of Ulster, North West Regional College and the Donegal Education and Training Board – works together to improve program planning and organization, enabling differentiated offerings, increased impact through pooling efforts and developing shared services.

While education levels are traditionally lower in the border region, he said there has been a dramatic change in recent years.

Professor Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, also highlighted how innovative access programs allow more students to access the university in a flexible way. There was an opportunity to extend these models to other institutions, he said.

Education Minister Norma Foley has also launched a new research partnership with the Standing Conference on Teacher Education in the North and South.

This new research program will focus on underachievement in schooling and cover a range of teaching and learning themes for teachers in curriculum teaching.

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