Wednesday, 19 June 2019: A new Government National Space Strategy for Enterprise to help Irish businesses develop and expand their space-active enterprise and research capacity has launched today. The strategy highlighted Space Industry Skillnet as a key partner to help retain and develop talent for businesses in the space sector in Ireland.

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research & Development, John Halligan, TD at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has launched the strategy to maximise the return on investment in the European Space Agency (ESA) and in the European Union’s (EU) flagship space programmes, Copernicus, Galileo and Horizon 2020.  The strategy, which covers the period 2019 to 2025, will enable a strong and sustainable space industry in Ireland and in the expanding global commercial space market.

Minister of State for Training and Skills at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, John Halligan, T.D. who launched the National Space Strategy said, “This strategy is the first of its kind for Ireland, affirming the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s and the Government’s commitment to support the continued growth and competitiveness of the Irish space-active industry. It is imperative that Ireland continues to develop skills and capabilities to competitively engage with the international space sector and play our role, not only in space research and exploration, but also in finding solutions to today’s problems on Earth. I strongly believe the National Space Strategy for Enterprise, 2019-2025, will drive Ireland forward as a competitive player in the space sector and in other related sectors, creating sustainable, long term employment for the future economy and supporting Ireland’s ability to play our part in addressing global issues such as climate change.”

Space Industry Skillnet supports Irish enterprises involved in the development and delivery of technology and services to the ESA and the global space market. The network operates in all technology sectors and provides state of the art training for employees at all levels in the member companies to enable the business to grow and operate successfully within the global space economy. Additionally, the Space Industry Skillnet, supported by Irish Space Industry Group (ISIG) and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), will develop targeted training programmes.

Speaking about the importance of training and upskilling, Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet Ireland said,
“Engaging with Skillnet Ireland gives businesses the ability to address the strategic challenges and skills gaps faced within their sector or region. In terms of the space sector, Space Industry Skillnet have a unique knowledge of the skills needs of Irish industry and are ideally placed to advise on skills shortages and associated challenges and to develop innovative solutions in areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, robotics and smart manufacturing.” said Tracey Donnery, Executive Director, Skillnet Ireland.
“In a dynamic industry like the space sector, it is important that all companies invest in upskilling to develop the highly skilled workforce necessary for business growth and increasing employment within the wider sector” she added.

Danny Gleeson, promoter with Space Industry Skillnet and Chair of the Irish Space Industry Group, and member of the National Space Strategy steering group highlights why training partnerships between businesses are beneficial;
“The overall mission of Space Industry Skillnet is to enable network members to participate fully in the space industry sector, to win contracts and grow their business. I think it’s important for groups of like-minded companies in a sector who are finding it difficult to raise the skill levels of their staff. It is imperative they come together, identify a common need and deliver it through a Skillnet.”

According to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, employment in Irish companies that benefit from ESA contracts is expected to double from 2,000 in 2014 to over 4,500 in 2020 and the goal for the space strategy is to reach 8000 by 2025.

Peter O’Kane – Engineering Manager with RealTime Technologies Ltd – outlines the impact of workforce development and upskilling through the Space Industry Skillnet for his business in developing new and existing talent;
“Our business has utilised the services of Space Industry Skillnet over the last number of years. SIS have assisted us with courses, seminars and networking events in Ireland and abroad. It’s a challenge to source talent in this industry. Training with our Skillnet helps us attract and retain the right people. Attending the QA for Space Projects courses, ESA approved training courses and most recently the Irish Space Industry Conference has helped us position ourselves as a successful company in a challenging growth market”
“Membership has enabled us to access relevant, quality and flexible training at a reduced cost. We are already seeing great improvements and networking has helped us win more business”

In recent years, the global space sector has been undergoing a major change, as the global space market has expanded from largely Government-driven projects to increased participation by private industry, often referred to as ‘New Space’. This trend is being driven by several factors, such as the increasing demand for communication services, location information and space-derived data. ‘New Space’ has opened up opportunities for private enterprises, research centres and entrepreneurs working in many sectors not traditionally associated with space, such as data analytics, software, data systems and advanced materials as well as the more obvious sectors, including electronics, opto-electronics, telecommunications geo-science and astrophysics. This new space brings about the need to develop future skills and specialist skills to ensure that the businesses have access to talent with the right skills.