It’s been over two years since the UK voted for Brexit and still the world waits for the UK to relinquish its ties with the EU. There is huge anticipation and uncertainty over exactly how it will all unfold. Uncertainty and vagueness are breeding grounds for anxiety as nervous business owners wonder how their trade will be affected. Ireland has a lot at stake.
Historically we have had very close business ties with our nearest neighbours and have relied heavily on the UK market. With tighter borders, enterprise will have to navigate a potentially more restrictive trading environment with the UK (e.g. customs clearance, logistics, supply chain management). The impact of this is unknown and will require new learning and development of new skills.
However, we must remember that Brexit isn’t all bad news. Ireland has already gained from Brexit as many multinational companies have relocated from the UK to Ireland to retain access to the European market, thus creating more jobs and more money in our economy. To prepare for the adverse effects of Brexit and the possible opportunities Ireland could take advantage of, the government have launched a new report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). The report identifies the new skill sets required to prepare for Brexit and identifies how Ireland can prosper from Britain’s exit from the EU.
What is the EGFSN?
The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) advises the Irish Government on the current and future skills needs of the economy and on other labour market issues that impact on Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth. It has a central role in ensuring that labour market needs for skilled workers are anticipated and met.
Preparation for Brexit
The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, and the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, recently launched a new report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) on Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit. The purpose of this report is twofold. Firstly the report has sought to identify the skills needs arising from the potential trade implications of Brexit. Examining the potential impact on a number of key internationally trading sectors, as well as the wider Freight Transport, Distribution and Logistics sector that underpins this trade. Secondly the study is an attempt to avail of any opportunities that may arise as a result of Brexit.
Ireland’s Historic Dependence on Trade with UK
The UK has been a key partner and conduit for Ireland’s international trading activity since the foundation of the State, with the volume of exports and imports to and from the UK market and the integral role played by the UK landbridge as a channel for Ireland’s international trade. Such is the interrelationship between the Irish and UK economies, on a North-South as well as East-West basis, that the UK’s departure from the European Union- and potentially both the Single Market and Customs Union- poses one of the greatest challenges for the Irish economy since independence.
Overall, there is a lack of preparedness and understanding within sections of the enterprise base on what Brexit will require from a skills perspective, with clear gaps in areas such as customs expertise, financial management, and a need for skills measures to facilitate international traders and logistics and supply chain enterprises to explore new markets. The report makes eight recommendations directed towards enhancing the pool of trade-related skills available to Irish enterprise and making them more resilient in the wake of Brexit.
Speaking about the report Minister Humphreys said, “This report highlights the impact Brexit will have on enterprises across all sectors, and how it will increase the need for skills in areas such as customs clearance, logistics, supply chain management, financial management, and for diversifying trade into new markets. My officials will now engage with the stakeholders identified in the report to progress the EGFSN’s recommendations, and the preparedness of businesses for the challenges of Brexit.”
To read the EGFSN’s report click here.