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Minister Harris announces partnership between the Department and the ESRI to drive forward Ireland’s skills ambition

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD today welcomed the launch of a new partnership on research between his Department and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to help drive ambition on skills and talent.

The ESRI, in partnership with the Department, will undertake research on developments in the labour market and the shifting nature of skills.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “There are more people at work than ever before but we cannot become complacent. The world of work is changing and it is vital we take steps to future proof the jobs market and people’s jobs.

‘’Better understanding current, future and emerging skills requirements will help us better plan for the education system we need to have to meet the demands of our economy and society.”

Professor Alan Barrett, Director of the ESRI, added: “It is well recognised that increases in productivity are the basis for sustainable economic growth and improved living standards.

“In turn, it is also well understood that enhanced skills are a key factor in increasing productivity. Given this context, the ESRI is delighted to be working with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on this crucial research agenda.”

The collaboration between the Department and the ESRI will run for three years and comes amid a backdrop of rapid transformation affecting skills and labour market needs.

This work will assist Ireland in responding effectively to the challenges and opportunities facing us now and into the future, with a focus on skills and talent as key drivers of productivity, innovation and growth.


This research work is a first step in addressing early findings from the 2022 OECD Skills Strategy Project, specifically the need to have dynamic, granular, real-time data and analysis to ensure Ireland reaches its ambitious goals on skills and talent.




Notes to the Editor


ESRI DFHERIS Joint Skills Research Programme (2022-2025) on Irish Skills Requirements.

The objective of the ESRI DFHERIS Joint Skills Research Programme is to carry out and disseminate research on skills and human capital requirements to help inform and shape policy direction on skills issues.

It is envisaged that the programme will run for three years in the first instance and the Steering Committee will guide and provide high-level oversight of the programme in order to support the delivery of its objective.


 Steering Committee (SC)


  1. Role


To provide high-level oversight and determine work plan for the programme led and in consultation with Programme Coordinator.


  1. Membership




William Beausang (co Chair)


Dr Seamus McGuinness (co Chair)


Stephanie O’Brien


Prof Emer Smyth


Dr Adele Whelan


Marcus Breathnach


Joan McNaboe


Sorcha Carthy


Paul Healy

Skillnet Ireland





  1. Meetings: Steering Committee will convene on quarterly basis with 1st meeting taking place on Friday 21.10.22


Advisory Expert Panels (AEP).


AEPs will be convened as needed depending on the specification of topics from work programme, with their role to provide expert advice, technical input and provide comments to draft research outputs.



OECD Skills Strategies


OECD Skills Strategies provide a strategic and comprehensive approach to assess countries’ skills challenges and opportunities, and build more effective skills systems. The OECD works collaboratively with countries, states and regions to develop policy responses that are tailored to each one’s specific skills challenges and needs.


The foundation of this approach is the OECD Skills Strategy framework, the components of which are i) developing relevant skills over the life course, ii) using skills effectively in work and in society, and iii) strengthening the governance of the skills system.


OECD Skills Strategy Project for Ireland


The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science  leads in partnership with the OECD,  2022 Skills Strategy Project, working across Government via a Cross-Departmental Project Team (CDPT), and through the primary skills infrastructures, the National Skills Council (NSC) and nine Regional Skills For a (RSF).


There are four Priority Areas of the Project:

  1. Securing balance in skills through a responsive and diversified supply of skills
  2. Fostering greater participation in lifelong learning in and outside of the workplace
  3. Strengthening the governance across a joined up skills ecosystem
  4. Leveraging skills to drive innovation and strengthen the performance of firm


Phases of engagement


The review is being undertaken over approx. 15-18 months to complete and entails the following four phases:


  1. Scoping – Mapping and Engagement (Q4 2021 – Q1 2022);
  2. Assessment - (Q2 2022);
  3. Recommendations – (Q3-Q4 2022); 
  4. Publication of Final Report – (Q1 2023).


Ireland is more than halfway through the comprehensive skills review with the OECD. Clear areas of focus emerging to drive forward ambitiously on include having more dynamic, granular, real-time data to inform how we respond rapidly to industry's needs, particularly across digital skills demands in all sectors.


Initial findings in relation to skills data also include:


  • Need for strengthening the collection of skills information- particularly on shortages of specific skills (not only occupations)
  • Need for strengthening the use of skills information- (provision and forecasting)
  • Need for strengthening the dissemination of skills information- forecasting and better  communication of outcomes (ie FET, STEM)
  • Need for improved, and effective exchange and use of skills data across the government and with stakeholders.