TCD Hosts 6th annual Irish Universities Association HR Conference

Posted on: 21 September 2007

The 6th annual Irish Universities Association HR Conference was hosted by Trinity College Dublin on 20th September 2007 last. The Conference entitled Fourth Level Ireland (The Knowledge Economy) ‘Educate, Innovate, Create’ explored the issues arising for human resources (HR) in supporting the university sector in delivering their objectives. Through a combination of presentations and seminars on future HR practices, and the vision of the workplace of the future, the conference provided a framework for university HR professionals to prepare for and meet the challenges of a Knowledge Economy.

The Minister for Innovation Policy, Michael Ahern TD, opened the conference. In his address to the delegates, Minister Ahern commented on the critical importance of the contribution of the knowledge workers in building the knowledge economy. The Minister also outlined some of the policy measures being implemented in relation to the universities/higher education institutions, such as stronger emphasis on the development of the fourth level, the formation of graduate schools to support more widely skilled PhDs and enhanced collaboration between academia and industry.

Commenting on the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 and the challenges facing the universities/higher education institutions, the Minister stated: “In essence the strategy aims to grow our national system of innovation and to ensure that all nodes of the knowledge and innovation web are properly connected. There are serious challenges and opportunities facing Ireland’s universities and higher education institutions if we are to effectively combine ideas and innovation. There is also the issue of interconnectedness with the world beyond academia but it is heartening to note that significant process of structural and strategic change which is underway in the HEI sector.”

The conference included speakers from industry and the public sector such as Alan Greenberg, Apple Europe who described how educational institutions throughout Europe and the United States have considerably enhanced the learning and teaching process by providing mobile access to learning materials, such as iPods & podcasting technology.

Bryan Andrews, CEO, Public Appointments Service detailed the journey that the Public Appointments Service has taken from the compliance based, bureaucratic approach to recruitment in favour of an efficient, client focused, quality driven service, through the use of innovative web-based technology.

The Director of TCD’s Centre for Learning Technology, Dr. Vincent Wade explained how advancements in e-learning have been crucial in assisting students to undertake over 350 online courses. Developments in this area also include the use of virtual technology to support learning activities.

Lucy Fallon-Byrne, NCPP Director, called for greater action on workplace innovation to increase Ireland’s competitive advantage over other nations. This involves universities moving to higher, value-added activities that depend on tapping into employee knowledge, creativity, and capacity for innovation.

Googles Senior HR business Partner, Ciara D’Arcy told the conference that Google found that the quality and expertise of the Irish workforce in the area of information technology to be of a very high standard. She said that it was this quality that has enabled Google respond to the ever changing needs of its customers in a highly competitive market environment.

Commenting on the significance of the event, TCD Staff Secretary, Tony McMahon said: “The success of a Knowledge Economy will demand and need new innovative approaches to HR practice. This conference explores how the advancement in information technology can assist the university sector in delivering these objectives.”
More than 100 participants took part in the conference and included representatives from all seven universities and the Irish Universities Association.

Vice-Provost, prof ruth byrne, provost, dr john hegarty, minister for innovation policy, michael ahern, staff secretary, tony mcmahon