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Ministers Harris and Collins welcome publication of 2023 National Skills Bulletin

Ministers Harris and Collins welcome publication of 2023 National Skills Bulletin

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins TD today welcomed the publication of the 2023 National Skills Bulletin.

This is the nineteenth in an annual series of reports, launched today on behalf of National Skills Council by the SOLAS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in the RDS, Dublin. Bulletin reports an increasing number skilled workers will be needed in areas such as engineering, science and healthcare over the coming years.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “The education and training system plays a key role in addressing the issues highlighted in the National Skills Bulletin. We are making significant strides in increasing the number of available education and training places for occupations highlighted as being in particular demand along with significant investment in our apprenticeship system to meet the demand for construction workers and a number of other key areas.

“With 2023 being the European Year of Skills, a year to encourage countries and individuals to avail of upskilling and reskilling opportunities, it is of particular importance that we put skills at the centre of our lives as individuals; as a driver of our enterprise success, and as a core tenet of our economic and societal wellbeing.

‘’The skills intelligence from the National Skills Bulletin is a critical component in shaping our skills policies and the compass that guides us toward building a more resilient society with individuals equipped and prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

Minister Collins said: “We know from the SLMRU Summer Skills Bulletin that employment in Ireland is set to grow by up to 650,000 over the coming years and that we will need more than 3 million people in employment by 2035.

“That why the National Skills Bulletin is so important – it gives us an opportunity to take stock of the country’s skills needs and plan for the future.

“This is exactly what we have been doing since the creation of this Department. We have worked hard to drive investment in skills infrastructure, and through the Year of Skills campaign we have also asked individuals and companies to take advantage of all the opportunities out there to reskill or upskill and, ultimately, work towards reaching your full potential.”

Produced by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS, the state body with responsibility for funding, planning and co-ordination of further education and training in Ireland, the Bulletin provides an overview of the Irish labour market at occupational level, and identifies where shortages and recruitment challenges exist.

It reported that while strong employment growth is evident in many areas, this growth in the economy has also resulted in significant recruitment challenges, with a number of skills shortages identified across a range of occupational areas.

For employers, the ability to retain and develop the skills of their current workforce is more important than ever.

The report identifies skills shortages in science and engineering, ICT, health and social care, construction, other craft, hospitality and transport and logistics.

Recruitment issues have also been highlighted in a number of occupations including, social workers, project/operations managers, production managers in manufacturing and construction occupations.

In 2022, the strong rebound from the impact of COVID-19 is evident in key labour market indicators:

  • 55 million persons were employed in 2022 (annual average), an increase of 158,100 persons (or 6.6%) since 2021 and 9.9% (or 228,500 persons) above 2019 levels
  • 119,400 persons were unemployed in 2022 (annual average), a fall of 38,400 persons (or 24.3%) since 2021, and the lowest levels observed since before the 2008 financial crisis.

The National Skills Bulletin also provides analysis across a range of labour market indicators including:

  • there were 98 million labour market transitions recorded in 2022, compared to 2.02 million in 2021 and 1.4 million in 2019; the most significant change between 2021 and 2022 related to a decline in movements into employment (from unemployment or inactivity) as the effects of COVID-19 eased, and a considerable increase (+203,000) in the number of transitions for those changing occupations
  • approximately 37,000 new employment permits were issued in 2022, far exceeding the 14,000 issued in 2021 (and indeed any previous year); in 2022, the ICT and health sectors combined accounted for more than half (53%) of new permits issued; permits for professional occupations accounted for almost two thirds (63%)
  • the workforce in most regions increased between quarter 4 2021 and quarter 4 2022, with the largest growth (+6%) in the Mid-East region; with the exception of the Border region, the unemployment rate fell in all regions
  • online job advertisements (using Cedefop OVATE data) increased by 2% between 2021 and 2022; large relative increases for education professionals, hospitality managers, and health professionals were countered by declines for process/plant operatives, other skilled trades and ICT professionals.

Speaking at the launch today, Andrew Brownlee, CEO, SOLAS said: “The twin transitions of green and digital skills are creating additional challenges for the labour market in Ireland and is a considerable focus for delivery in further education and training.

“In SOLAS, we are committed to offering first class training, in state-of-the-art facilities, specifically to address some of these skills demands; for example, the FET sector provides for training at the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre in Louth Meath ETB, the Modern Methods of Construction Demonstration Park in Mount Lucas, as well as a number NZEB Centres of Excellence across the country. The 2023 National Skills Bulletin contains much information to help guide public policy and inform our decision making in SOLAS, particularly in these key areas.”

Joan McNaboe, Research Manager of the SLMRU, said: “In a tight labour market, it is inevitable that issues with recruitment will emerge. The National Skills Bulletin 2023 identifies skills shortages across a range of roles in ICT, science and engineering, construction, health, hospitality and transport & logistics. Demand is also evident across a number of other key areas, including the need to upskill and re-skill existing workers across a range of occupations in order to meet the requirements of the changing world of work, advances in technology and our commitments to tackling climate change. The National Skills Bulletin serves as a useful tool to provide for evidence-informed policy making in these areas.”

The full National Skills Bulletin 2023 is available here.