Paisley Launches Skill Exchange NI

May 28, 2014

The UK’s first online skills hub, www.skillexchangeni.org, has gone live in Belfast following a successful pilot in Ballymena.
Skill Exchange NI is the UK’s first ‘joined-up’ regional employer-to-employer network aimed at sharing skill and expertise through a Not for Profit programme.
Employers of any size and sector, free of charge, can connect directly with a range of experienced professionals in a variety of local, regional and national industries and organisations.
The service is being rolled out across five regional hubs centred in Belfast, Ballymena, Craigavon and Derry/Londonderry. Funders include Dunbia, Harland & Wolff, JTI, Michelin, Moy Park, Northern Regional College, Ulster Bank and Wright Bus.
The decision to form the first hub covering County Antrim/North East last year followed a presentation given by Skill Exchange UK to a group of MPs at Westminster.
The presentation gained the attention of Ian Paisley, MP for North Antrim, who followed up with a series of meetings in London and Ballymena.
Mr Paisley said: “The Skill Exchange team have created an innovative and game-changing idea that will redefine many of our attitudes to employment and skills.”
Rachel Doherty, HSQE Manager of GES Group, agreed, saying: “The Skill Exchange Hub initiative is a fantastic business development and support tool.
“The experience and know-how of local business professionals is shared through this initiative, making quality knowledge and tried-and-tested methods accessible to all – everything you could need to know to develop, enhance and grow your business is available through the Exchange.”
Michelin Ballymena had always considered supporting small and medium sized companies as part of their corporate and social responsibility, according to Kathy Simpson, Factory Personnel Manager.
“Skills exchange was an obvious way to enhance this support while at the same time looking for opportunities to develop our own employees,” she said. “I would encourage other companies to join this initiative to enable the support and opportunity network to grow.”
Philip Flaxton, Chief Executive of Skill Exchange UK, said employers stood to benefit from a wide range of activities such as knowledge sharing, skill development and retention, role placement, work experience, resource sharing, training and business mentoring.
“Skill Exchange NI, which we now plan to replicate throughout the UK, provides a regional strategy which allows the entire employer community an extended umbrella under which to access opportunities without location barriers,” he said.
Andy Mills, Regional Director, Business Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “Skill Exchange is an important programme that will help create greater flexibility and more opportunities for employees. Ulster Bank is committed to supporting business growth and this initiative offers the potential for employers to respond effectively to new avenues of business development.”

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