The Atlantic Technological University (ATU) has hosted a major business engagement event to assess the degree to which higher education institutions are meeting the needs of enterprise in the West and North West.
The event, which is the second in a series of three taking place this year, was held in the ATU’s Galway campus and featured representatives from the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) as well as established businesses from across the region such as Ireland West Airport, Donegal ETB, Sligo Chamber of Commerce, Abbvie and Abbott.
In April, industry was invited to an initial session entitled ‘Voice of the Customer’, at which various companies expressed opinions on staffing and skills issues across the ATU region.
The Wednesday June 22 workshop began with a formal address by ATU President Dr Orla Flynn before attendees were split into three breakout rooms to investigate key elements of the Higher Education 4.0 initiative, such as needs of the learner, needs of the employer, and needs of the region.
Following an hour-long session, the three working groups then joined together to hear summaries of their findings and conduct an open discussion on how operations might be further refined to meet the needs of industry.
Among topics discussed was the development of an online programme for the construction industry as well as a quality degree programme for the Medtech industry. Other case studies included Recognition of Prior Learning, Women in STEM and the Future of Work.
The event also featured the launch of MyCareerPath.ie, a free online career guidance service for people wishing to upskill, re-skill or change job.
The website, which was developed by the ATU as part of the €12.3million Higher Education 4.0 scheme, mixes AI technology and one-to-one human engagement to help workers access higher education and update their knowledge in way that’s as seamless and flexible as possible.
Visitors to MyCareerPath.ie enjoy free access to consultations with professional advisors, information on how workplace experience can be used to leverage access to third-level courses, and even AI technology that conducts mock interviews and provides feedback on a user’s interviewing style.
In what is a first for services of this kind in Ireland, users benefit from a 30-minute one-on-one meeting at the end the process in which an advisor measures skills gaps against a person’s goals and then advises on next steps, including the choice of potential ATU courses.
MyCareerPath.ie also offers a free service for businesses – helping with advice and tips on changing demands from clients and skills gaps within their own workforce.
Businesses can request advisors from MyCareerPath.ie to meet with their teams, identify potential gaps and come up with solutions.
The ATU liaised with employees from a range of organisations, including American medical device company Medtronic during the website’s pilot phase, and more than 50 people are now completing learning pathways.
Speaking about the business engagement event, ATU President Orla Flynn said: “By working closely with business and industry in the ATU region we can help ensure that graduates from ATU programmes are well placed to bridge skill shortages being experienced by employers.
“Events like this give us the opportunity to listen to business and industry stakeholders and to better understand the challenges they face.
“The launch of mycareerpath.ie a great example of how we deliver for businesses in our region, and these business engagement events will provide us with the insights we need to remain agile in supporting growth and prosperity in and beyond our region.”
Career and Learning Pathways Manager Bride Killoran said: “Part of the vision of the Higher Education 4.0 project is to catalyse as much university enterprise interaction as possible, with the view to growing the productive relationships with the various organisations and stakeholders that already exist across the ATU and working with business to help new relationships emerge.”
Training and Development Consultant with Medtronic, Mary Kearns, said: “We were delighted to be a part of the pilot of mycareerpath.ie and we have placed a number of our employees on the programme.
“We have been so impressed by the service that is provide by the ATU and it is clear that it has been developed with the needs of employers and employees in the region in mind.
“The combination of the e-learning tools and career assessments with the personalised advice provided by the Career and Learning Pathways advisors is second to none.
“It has given our Employees clarity around their career paths and the motivation and confidence to pursue further education and training.
“We would have no hesitation in recommending mycareerpath.ie and we see it as a valuable resource that should be leveraged by other companies in the region.”
Article (and image) originally published in Independent.ie