Skills Exchange Set For Expansion Throughout NI
Skill Exchange UK looks to help employers cope with peaks and troughs in today’s challenging climate. Skill Exchange UK has announced that regional Skill Exchange hubs will be set up across Northern Ireland between now and December, which will enable employers to second staff to other organisations. The hubs are designed to help employers retain employees and skills in the challenging economic times by sharing their staff with other organisations. The first regional hub in the UK was launched in Ballymena - www.skillexchangeuk.org/ballymena. Discussions are already underway for both a Belfast and Mid-Ulster hub. Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Skill Exchange UK, the not-for-profit organisation developed in conjunction with ACAS, the TUC and leading UK employers, told MNI that it is in discussion with organisations in a number of UK cities and towns, including Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Maidstone, London, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.
“The hub model is open to all towns and cities and is based on a travel-to-work radius of 25 miles,” he said. “In short, there has to be a nucleus of employers large and small — including micro businesses — in a particular location, who want to get together and create a hub in order to keep skills in their town or city.” A local Skill Exchange Hub uses the internets ‘always open’ networking environment to facilitate connections between ‘no-fee member employers’. It provides introductions to employees made available for secondment or for development of careers and skills as well as an easy and safe way to exchange ideas and information. Both employers save by simply sharing the costs of the employee being exchanged. The key objectives of a Skill Exchange Hub are to help: •Stop skills wastage and redundancy •Develop and share skills locally •Generate and exchange new ideas •Champion new ways of working •Provide development opportunities
The decision to launch this UK-wide initiative in Northern Ireland followed a presentation given by Skill Exchange UK to MPs at Westminster, which caught the attention of Ian Paisley, MP for North Antrim. Commenting on the Skill Exchange Hub programme he said “Skill Exchange UK have created an innovative and game-changing idea that will redefine many of our attitudes to employment and skills. As the Skill Exchange network grows, the transfer of knowledge and skills will occur all over Northern Ireland, which will help improve productivity, competitiveness and create growth in our local economies”. As well as Belfast, other hubs are planned, which include Derry/Londonderry/ and Craigavon. Among the first employers to sign up and fund the Ballymena Hub where Michelin Tyres, bus supplier Wrightbus, Japan Tobacco International, Moy Park, Dunbia and the Northern Regional College.
Raymond Ruck from Michelin said “Michelin were pleased to be a founding partner of the UK’s first Skill Exchange Hub in Ballymena. The opportunity to exchange skills and experience is part of Michelin's key values and the Skill Exchange Hub programme gives us the opportunity to expand our current activities. We would encourage other Companies to join the scheme and express their needs, big or small". Mark Nodder, Group Managing Director of the Wright Bus Group said: “Connecting local corporations and SMEs to directly share and source talent and skill is a great idea and we endorse it- as both a Ballymena Skill exchange Partner and supporting local employer.” More information is available from; www.skillexchangeuk.org Skill Exchange UK is a Not-for-Profit Organisation