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Home » Future of Work » Bespoke talent development attracts FDI companies

Mark Jordan

Chief Strategy Officer, Skillnet Ireland

Digital talent is essential in attracting companies to invest in Ireland and now a new partnership is focused on delivering it.

The ease of developing digital talent has never been more important in attracting companies to invest in Ireland.

“In today’s environment, companies realise that talent development means business development,” says Mark Jordan, Chief Strategy Officer at Skillnet Ireland. “They know transforming a global organisation requires skilled staff, and that talent – especially digital talent – must be nurtured, protected and developed to boost retention.”

With more than 70 Skillnet Business Networks throughout Ireland, the agency already supports over 12,000 workers within 1,200 foreign direct investment (FDI) companies across a range of sectors including technology, financial services, medtech, biopharma, advanced manufacturing and global business services each year. However, Jordan sees potential to further scale this support in the coming years.

Partnering for impact

To help FDI companies assess the talent they need and create plans to develop it, Skillnet Ireland has forged a new partnership with IDA Ireland. Combining business development services with talent development expertise and an extensive delivery network, the partnership will see new programmes and engagement models developed, with a new Strategic Talent Development programme already in place.

Jordan believes the partnership will build on the work the agency already delivers in the FDI space, which include the development of a PhD in Data Science, MSc in Global Business Services, and a new Masters in AI and Blockchain.

“We know that FDI companies need graduates with these qualifications, and we partner with companies to develop plans to provide the skills they need,” says Jordan. “These plans are individually tailored to the particular company, so they are bespoke solutions to meet their specific requirements.”

Jordan cites the case of a technology company with a massive global presence. “It has identified where it wants to be strategically, plus the types of skills this will require, which include skills in AI, blockchain and emerging technologies. It was seeking a transformation programme that meant teaching all staff the competences they would need,” he says.

Skillnet Ireland is delivering the programme. “It means the organisation is positioning its workforce for the future five to 10 years,” he says. “What’s more, staff are excited about the changes rather than fearful, and are motivated to engage with the change.”

In today’s environment, companies realise that talent development means business development.

Engagement and inclusivity

The right kind of development engages staff, tackles the fear factor and takes the worry out of making the organisational changes needed to adapt to the increasingly digitalised future of business.

“It’s important that development is inclusive so that everyone embraces the changes in a spirit of togetherness and feels empowered by the improvement in their skills and how that can lead to a more successful career,” says Jordan.

Not just big companies

Demand is growing at all levels, from SMEs which have used digitalisation in a limited way previously, to larger organisations looking to rethink their technology use to cut costs and boost revenues.

The surge in interest is partly a result of the pandemic, which has shown how digitalisation is a major new route to the consumer and prompted many companies to rethink the way they operate.

Jordan says: “It is particularly appealing to scaling organisations that have recruited new staff and want to support them. We can talk to leaders about whether they have got talent with the digital skills that will enable them to meet their objectives.”

A whole new approach

This is not just about delivering courses or training opportunities, Jordan emphasises. He says: “We partner with organisations to build a roadmap that means their talent will have the skills to help fulfil business ambitions.

“We help craft a bespoke and comprehensive plan to enable organisations to invest and expand in Ireland, confident that they will be supported in achieving their goals.”

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