The country is approaching what economists describe as full employment. But the recovery brings with it growing pains as employers in certain sectors are now finding key skills in short supply and the phrase "war for talent" has gained common currency. The Department of Education is this morning announcing a range of new supports aimed at ensuring that businesses here have the skilled employees they need now and into the future.

The Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the "skills audit tool" will help employers understand their skill needs and to plan for them. The Minister said the tool will look at what jobs are difficult to fill, whether the company has the capacity to upskill some of their own workforce, what is the fit of the existing provision they are receiving from the education or higher education system and also the flexibility they will need to provide that training to keep the business going.

Richard Bruton said the audit will throw up a very detailed, specification about individual vacancies and specific requirements from companies. It will be carried out across 600 different companies in 2018 and will provide a very good roadmap for the sort of provision that needs to be received from both higher and further education. 

The Minister said the country "is on a journey" and is moving from 25 apprenticeship areas to 78, as well as moving from less than 30 traineeships to 70. "We are ramping up rapidly the areas where employers can coalesce to deliver programmes that can meet their specific needs," Mr Bruton said. Companies are very successfully buying into that process, he added. 

MORNING BRIEFS - Stock market listed homebuilder Glenveagh Properties has signed a contract to acquire a site in Dublin's North Docklands for an undisclosed sum which it said was commercially sensitive but was in excess of €40m. Glenveagh said the two hectare site had the potential to hold up to 450 residential units, subject to planning. 

*** Disney is expected to announce a $60 billion all-stock deal to acquire most of the assets of rival studio Fox later today.

*** The US Federal Reserve last night announced a widely expected decision to raise interest rates for the third time this year. The Fed noted, however, that inflation is tepid in the world's largest economy and that it is expected to remain weak for the foreseeable future. That was interpreted by investors as a sign that the pace of future rate increases will be slower than previously expected.

*** Retailer Sports Direct, which has 33 standalone outlets in Ireland and also the 14 strong Heatons fashion chain, reported a 67% in pre-tax profit for the six months to the end of October. The interim results show costs associated with store closures and asset disposals during the period impacted the bottom line. On an underlying basis, excluding these one off restructuring expenses, Sports Direct reported a 23% rise in profit compared to the same period last year.