CIPD Northern Ireland Conference:

20th May 2022

Transforming NI’s workplaces through people 

THREE hundred delegates gathered in Belfast recently for the annual Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) Northern Ireland Conference.

At the event in the ICC a range of HR and business leaders talked about the role for people professionals in creating more purposeful, inclusive and productive post-Covid workplaces, with people at the centre. 

In the opening keynote, CIPD Chief Executive, Peter Cheese, discussed the trends impacting on the world of work, and how we can use the lessons learned from the pandemic as a stimulus for change to help shape a fairer, more human world of work. 

“There has never been a more important time for our profession,” he said. “We can help to create a better future, championing better work and working lives. What better purpose could we have than that?” 

During the wide-ranging plenary panel discussion on skills Danske Bank HR Director, Caroline van der Feltz, said that there is a social responsibility, as well as a commercial one, to develop young people’s skills, highlighting the particular importance of digital skills to the future economy.  

Meanwhile Graeme Wilkinson, Director of Skills at the Department for the Economy emphasised the importance of employers working with Government to deliver the ambitions in the new Skills Strategy.  

Hybrid and flexible working were discussed in many of the conference sessions, including a plenary session where Jill Minne, Strategic Director of HR with NICS said that an increase in hybrid working is introducing a new set of cultural issues and challenges in organisations where large numbers of employees are working in roles without access to flexible working.  

She said: “Figuring out how to avoid creating a two-tier workforce is a huge challenge for HR professionals.”

In a breakout session on recruitment and retention, both Barbara McKeirnan, Managing Director of VANRATH and Deborah Stevenson, People and Operations Director at PwC emphasised that while salary is important, employees are looking for other benefits beyond reward, and for many people, culture, values, and purpose are key drivers when choosing an employer. 

Closing keynote speakers Izzy and Ailbhe Keene, from Dublin-based Izzy Wheels founders, charmed delegates with their story of embracing individuality and inclusion, through their creative business, which designs bold, colourful covers for wheelchair wheels.   

The CIPD Northern Ireland Annual Conference was sponsored by VANRATH, with nijobfinder as media partner. 

Barbara McKiernan, Managing Director of VANRATH said: “We were delighted to be the headline sponsor at the CIPD NI Conference for the fourth consecutive year. It was great to see so many familiar faces after such a long time as well as new ones. 

“The event hosted an incredible lineup of speakers that allowed us to hear how we can combat very topical issues, including attraction and retention of talent. We are very much looking forward to being a part of the conference in 2023.”

Nijobfinder Business Manager, Colin Maxwell, said: “This year’s conference was the biggest and best yet. The event offered delegates the opportunity to hear from other HR professionals and hopefully take away some valuable insights to implement in their own organisations.” 

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