Skills Exchange UK

Skill Exchange UK Seeks to Drive Employment, Growth and Competitiveness, by Promoting Employer “Skill Recycling” through Localised Online Skill Exchanges.

Launched in Michelin Tyre PLC, Ballymena, Skill Exchange UK is an independent, not for profit organisation developed in conjunction with Leading Employers, ACAS and the TUC. It provides a simple but highly innovative service aimed at local employer ‘skill recycling’, an efficient and more sensible alternative to skill wastage, by facilitating local placements for under used staff into other firms that can benefit from the ‘loan’ of skilled staff at low cost.

Skill Exchange UK Ballymena Chairman Chris Wales talks to (L-R) DEL Minister Stephen Farry, Ballymena Mayor PJ McAvoy and Ian Paisley MP at the launch of the first Skill Exchange project in the UK.

Through the MP for North Antrim Ian Paisley, Ballymena has been selected as the first location for a Skill Exchange UK hub, with three more arriving in Northern Ireland within the next 6 months. The other 3 locations are Belfast, Londonderry/Derry and Craigavon. By the end of 2013 there will be 35 Skill Exchange hubs across the UK.

The funding partners for the Ballymena Hub are Michelin Tyre PLC, Wrightbus, JTI, Moy Park, Dunbia and the Northern Regional College. Because of the founding member’s contributions, all other businesses within Ballymena will be able to join and use the hub’s services free of charge. Supporting partners include Ballymena Council and Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

L-R Mayor PJ McAvoy, Robert Bisaillon (JTI), Anne Donaghy (Chief Executive Ballymena Borough Council), Chris Wales (Chair Ballymena Hub Skill Exchange UK), Ian Paisley MP, Catriona McBride (JTI) and David Lennan (Deputy Chairman Skill Exchange UK)

The Skill Exchange Local Hub Programme uses the internets ‘always open’ networking environment to facilitate connections between ‘member employers’. It provides introductions to employees made available for secondment or for development of careers and skills as well as an easy and safe way to exchange ideas and information. Both employers save by simply sharing the costs of the employee being exchanged.

The Northern Regional College hopes to benefit by not only sending students on work placements within Ballymena businesses, but also by seconding staff and lecturers to learn new skills and processes that can be brought back to the College.

Ian Paisley the Member of Parliament for North Antrim commented “Skill Exchange UK have created an innovative and game-changing idea that will redefine many of our attitudes to employment and skills.

As the Skill Exchange network grows, the transfer of knowledge and skills will occur all over the United Kingdom and I am proud that Ballymena and North Antrim will have lead the way in this exciting and refreshing network.

It is my sincere belief that it is not just the multi-national corporations, but also the SMEs and colleges within the area who will benefit from the hub. The sharing of people and skills will be a vital attribute for many of our areas businesses, and I look forward with great anticipation to watching the hub grow and prosper into a network that will benefit the whole community.”

The funding partners and guests at the launch of the Ballymena Hub of Skill Exchange UK.

Over the next three years a further 100 local skill exchange hubs will be created based on travel to work areas across the UK. This will enable employers to share skills, offer work experience opportunities, share information and practical ideas that will assist capacity issues, improve staff development and retention, allowing more efficient deployment of people and skills.

Employers of any size from any sector will join together to create online local networks acting as a ‘clearing house’ for good ideas and developing local solutions to local challenges.

The key objectives are to provide local customised skill exchange hubs to:

  • Stop skills wastage and redundancy
  • Develop and share skills locally
  • Generate and exchange new ideas
  • Champion new ways of working
  • Provide development opportunities

This will impact on and expand the skills base, improve job markets and job opportunities locally and ultimately nationally. Employers & key Influencers will be creating job opportunities by supporting and sponsoring work experience opportunities, apprenticeships, training and development in the workplace.

In cases where a temporary economic change results in under-utilised employees, then secondment can effectively share or transfer those skilled employees from their employer company to new roles in another company. Salary costs can be shared by both employers through the on line service provided by Local Skill Exchange Hubs.

The Local Skill Exchange Hub Programme will operate across all industry sectors to provide employer members ways to cut costs but retain their key staff by lending or renting them out to other firms and sharing the costs. At the same time substantial benefit will flow up and down the supply chains as skills and experience develop, knowledge transfer takes place and information and best practice are genuinely shared.

This initiative has been backed and supported by many of Northern Ireland’s main business and trade organisations. In attendance at the event were DEL Minister Stephen Farry, Invest NI, the CBI, the Chamber of Commerce, the NI Equality commission, the Labour Relations Agency, Ballymena Council and the Northern Ireland local Government Association.

For further information about the Ballymena Hub of Skill Exchange UK, please visit



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One Response to “Skills Exchange UK”
  1. Xcellent coverage!… and we were all delighted with an enthusiastic and spirited launch on Tuesday- great work by all concerned. We are also very pleased to have Ballymena Borough Concil ‘on board’ and supporting the Partners and the vital starting steps of the Ballymena Skill X UK local HUB.
    Please visit the site and look around and if interested contact our HUB Chairman Chris Wales.

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Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 4 Wellington Court, Ballymena, BT43 6EQ


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