'Skills Hub' Initiative Launches

A new initiative to encourages employers to share skills, offer work experience opportunities has been announced by Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry.

The first ‘Skills Hub’ initiative seeks to enable employers to facilitate the secondment of highly skilled members of staff to other organisations and SMEs in the surrounding area. The project encourages employers to share skills, offer work experience opportunities, and practical ideas that will assist capacity issues, improve staff development and retention, allowing more efficient deployment of people and skills. The launch follows a successful pilot in Ballymena.

The Minister said: "I welcome this private sector led collaborative initiative and am pleased that the first ever launch has taken place in Northern Ireland. I therefore applaud the local companies, and the Northern Regional College, for getting involved and providing the funding to launch this scheme.

"This initiative will help to retain and develop our highly valuable skilled workers. This is better for both local companies and individuals, as staff can be placed into meaningful alternative work, instead of facing unemployment. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

The Hub is being funded by Dunbia, Harland & Wolff, JTI, Michelin, Moy Park, Northern Regional College, Ulster Bank and Wright Bus, allowing smaller SMEs and others to benefit from the skills exchange free of charge. Four regional online Hubs will focus on the North East, North West, South East and South West, which will be centred in Belfast, Craigavon, Derry and Ballymena.

Skill Exchange NI is the brainchild of Skill Exchange UK which is now aiming to roll out similar hubs across the rest of the UK. Further information is available at the Skills Exchange website

Philip Flaxton, Chief Executive of Skill Exchange, said: "Skill Exchange NI, which we now plan to replicate throughout the UK, provides a regional strategy which allows the entire employer community an extended umbrella under which to access opportunities without location barriers."

Robert Cooper, Harland and Wolff Chief Executive Officer, said: "Employers stand to benefit from a wide range of activities through Skills Exchange NI, such as knowledge sharing, skill development and retention, role placement, work experience, resource sharing, training and business mentoring. It is a win-win for both employer and employee."

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