Midlands Regional Skills Forum Members
Mr Ken Whitelaw Regional Manager IDA
Ms Antonine Healy FET Director LWETB
Mr Tony Dalton FET Director LOETB
Mr Mark Atterbury Enterprise Ireland
Mr Ciaran King Construction Industry Federation
Ms Veronica O’Brien DSP Regional Manager
Mr John Mc Kenna AIT (Forum Chair)
Ms Anne Naughton Skills For Growth
Ms Catherine Collins Manager Polymer Skillsnet
Ms Tracey Tallon Westmeath LEO
Mr Pat Gallagher Westmeath County Manager
MS Helen Leahy Regional Policy Manager IBEC
Mr Michael Tobin Dean of Life Long Learning AIT
Ms Sarah Morgan Programme Manager, Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan
Mr John Costello Regional Skills Forum Manager
What We Do
The RSFM has established a strong knowledge of critical vacancies and key skills that are required from companies across the Midlands. This information influences course creation in key areas, creating a pipeline of talent in the every changing world of work. Success to date includes upskilling low skilled workers in IT, various courses in Engineering/Manufacturing. Over 900 people undertaking Springboard courses from Level 6 to level 9 in all key upskilling needs delivery in a flexible manner.
This continuous building of knowledge along with key Industry contacts can guide the various Education and Training providers in upskilling initiatives.
- Provide a cohesive structure for employers and the further and higher education system to work together in building the skills needs of the region
- Help employers better understand and access the full range of services available across the education and training system
- Enhance links between education and training providers in planning and delivering programmes, reduce duplication and inform national funding decisions
- Facilitate the involvement of enterprise stakeholders in a collaborative framework with education and training partners in the identification, development and delivery of skills development responses
- Actively promote the activities and achievements of the Regional Skills Forum
Education and Training Providers
The Midlands offers high quality education for learners of all ages, with opportunities ranging from pre-school to Third Level and Lifelong Learning opportunities. There are more than 250 primary schools, 2 Education and Training Boards and 65 secondary schools in the four counties of the region. Recent years have seen considerable investment in the educational infrastructure, and facilities throughout the region are at a high standard.
Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) is situated in the heart of the region and plays a central role in the Midlands and Ireland’s economic development through its education, research and innovation programmes. This award-winning, cutting-edge institution also has three strategic research institutes in Materials (MRI), Biosciences (BRI) and Software (SRI). The establishment of an Enterprise Ireland funded translational research centre, SUNAT (seamless communications) within the SRI, further strengthens this support for strategic industry. The Institute also has an Industrial Polymer Solution and Design Centre specialising in the testing and development of chemical and polymeric systems. Analytical laboratories are also made available to local industry for research and development purposes. Further research clusters exist within AIT through the four Schools of Business, Engineering, Humanities and Science.
In March 2021, it was announced that Athlone IT and Limerick IT would merge to form the country’s third technological university which will called the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest. The name was decided upon to reflect the college’s connection with the river Shannon and is very fitting for the Midlands region and for a University that is going to boast campuses in a wide selection of locations across the Midlands and Mid-West. Technological University of the Shannon stands for ‘Tús’ in Irish which means ‘new beginnings’ and highlights a fresh start for staff, students and stakeholders. Around 3,500 people participated in the discussions regarding the new name of the university, “which has produced a name that is both reflective of our region and speaks to our ability to impact regionally, nationally and internationally,” said AIT’s president, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin.
TUS:MMW will have six campuses across Limerick, Ennis, Athlone and Thurles and is expected to employ around 1,200 people and have a student population of 15,000, when it opens later this year. The TU will give the Midwest and Midlands a huge competitive edge and it will also offer people living in the region and beyond more choice as well as provide employers with a pipeline of skills and talented graduates to fill the gaps in the labour force, regionally and nationally.
A report entitled, ‘The Socio-Economic Assessment of the AIT-LIT Consortium”, (commissioned by Shannon International Development) described how the new TU will have a ‘key role’ to play in restoring the finances of the country, post-pandemic. “Ireland’s newest technological university is well placed to address the challenges of a post-pandemic economy by meeting the resulting demands for higher education, upskilling and reskilling, as well as addressing educational disadvantage and economic regional imbalances,” stated the report.