Minister Harris Calls on Continued Cooperation Between Higher Education and Enterprise to Enable Future Skills

The Convene Enterprise Forum took place at UCD Innovation Academy this week, calling on enterprise and higher education to continue working together to respond to future skills needs. 

Now in its second year, Convene is a collaboration between UCD and TU Dublin that is transforming university-enterprise engagement and delivering the skills, innovation, and agility Ireland needs to future-proof its workforce and economy. The Forum, a quarterly event series aims to bring enterprise and higher education closer together, find common ground and generate new ideas. 
Close collaboration between higher education and enterprise brings many benefits for our economy and our society. It ensures our universities are responding to emerging skills needs; it allows a free flow of ideas between universities and enterprise and it gives students vital real world experience that will allow them to hit the ground running when they graduate.

In less than two years Convene has shown what’s possible when universities collaborate and when higher education and enterprise work together; from ground breaking new projects using virtual reality to teach undergraduates future skills, to embedding enterprise into university teaching and allowing students of all disciplines to work hands-on with green technologies. These shared learnings will also inform the establishment of an Enterprise Academy at TU Dublin, modelled on the success of the UCD Innovation Academy, and I’m looking forward to this exciting new development.

- Simon Harris, TD
Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science
The panel discussion, The Future of Work is Here - How do Enterprise and Higher Education Respond Together included Kate O’Sullivan from LinkedIn, Pedro Angulo from Brown Thomas Arnotts, Dee Coakley from start-up Boundless and Kevin Marshall from Microsoft. Convene’s enterprise partners were also in attendance spanning six different sectors including the ESB, the Irish Exporters Association and start-up The UpCycle Farm, among others. 
At UCD Innovation Academy, we prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, to help them live well in the world and for the betterment of our economy and society - we can only do that through close cooperation with enterprise, ensuring we’re future proofing our graduate with the right skills and experience. Working closely with TU Dublin, we hope Convene will be a model for others in higher education, demonstrating different ways to work with enterprise and the benefits that brings.

- Prof Suzi Jarvis, Founding director of UCD Innovation Academy
and UCD’s Convene Lead.
Guests also had the opportunity to see Convene projects in action including UCD Innovation Academy’s Makerspace and Transversal Skills Virtual Reality programme, both funded by Convene.

In a wide ranging discussion, the panel addressed:
  • What trends they saw emerging in the skills space as a result of ongoing disruption and volatility and how higher education helps students prepare to harness those skills; 
  • How higher education can help students to prepare for and navigate a more organic route through their careers;

  • How employers can ensure everyone thrives in this moment of disruption;
  • Turning the spotlight from employees to employers and what skills leaders need to focus on developing? 
  • Whether we are doing enough to foster entrepreneurism among students and learners;
  • What the value proposition is for higher education now and into the future in the face of new models and new providers of education;
  • How not just higher education but the education system as a whole responds to the challenges we face.
When asked what skill they believe is currently undervalued which will be of importance in the future, the panel's answers spanned soft to hard skills including compassion, humility, asynchronous communications, green skills, data skills and the ability to effectively address issues of access and inclusion.


About the Convene Enterprise Forum:
The Convene Enterprise Forum is a quarterly event series that serves as a shared space for exchange and discussion between enterprise, higher education, policymakers and others. Events are free to attend and will take place online and in person. The Convene Enterprise Forum seeks to bring enterprise and higher education closer together, find common ground and generate new ideas. Future events will cover topics such as how we support the development of transversal skills, Global Ireland and climate action, as well as major challenges specific to the seven major employment sectors that form part of Convene: Tourism, Food & Drink, Creative and Cultural, Social Enterprise, ICT/FinTech, MedTech and Pharma.