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16th August 2018

Is your workforce ready for the future? €2M training fund to help close the widening skills gap

Is your workforce ready for the future? Skillnet Ireland announces €2M training fund to help close the widening skills gap


Skillnet Ireland, the national agency responsible for the promotion and facilitation of workforce learning in Ireland has today announced up to €2M worth of funding will be made available to industry bodies and enterprise groups to develop new Skillnet Networks. The new enterprise-led learning networks will be launched in 2019 and will support Irish businesses in addressing their current and future skills needs. Application information can be found on the funding page.

The world of work is changing rapidly and as a result, people’s skills are becoming dated more quickly. Employers are often distracted by a myriad of different priorities and perhaps don’t always give staff training the emphasis it needs. Advances in technology, market shifts, changing demographics, new regulation, and varied competitive forces are constantly driving skilling needs. These challenges can be addressed by enterprise-led Skillnet learning networks which offer employers a flexible and innovative approach to upskilling and developing its workforce.

Brendan McGinty, Chairperson Skillnet Ireland highlights the benefits of developing a Skillnet network, “there is an ever-widening productivity gap between indigenous SMEs and multinationals based here. Therefore, it is imperative that Irish businesses remain competitive by investing in their workforce. Businesses can improve their outcomes immensely by engaging with Skillnet Ireland for a relatively low cost. The Skillnet Ireland model enables businesses work together to identify the skills needed for their workforce development and to deliver relevant and impactful solutions to these skills challenges.”

A group of businesses from the same sector or region can collectively apply to establish a Skillnet learning network with funding support for the development and delivery of innovative learning solutions. The fund is open to applications from industry federations, industry bodies or enterprise groups through a competitive application process.

Paul Healy, Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive urges enterprise groups to get ahead in business by working with Skillnet Ireland to develop innovative learning solutions.

“By making up to €2M in funding available for the development of new enterprise-led learning networks, Skillnet Ireland is helping more businesses in Ireland to collaborate, to develop talent pipelines and to assist in the upskilling of their teams. We are seeking to establish new Skillnet Networks, both sectoral and regional, that complement our existing 60+ networks.”

“Skillnet Ireland funds over 50 industry representative groups, supporting over 15,000 companies and 50,000 trainees annually. Industry bodies and enterprise groups intending to establish a new Skillnet Network should clearly identify the skilling and talent needs of their sector or region. They should also show that there is strong momentum from employers to support the establishment of a Skillnet Network in the first instance, and to ensure its sustainability over the longer term.”

Sinead Keogh, Director of Ibec’s Medtech and Engineering Division understands the value of the Skillnet model,

“setting up the Connected Health Skillnet made complete sense for our companies, as it is strategically aligned to the future direction of our sector. Getting involved in a Skillnet learning network gives businesses a great competitive edge and provides excellent networking opportunities. Companies come together and develop tailored programmes that can be practically applied to their business every day. The return on investment is second to none and getting involved benefits a business on many levels.”

The Skillnet model is particularly appealing for SMEs as the cost of training is subsided by Skillnet Ireland. In addition, the design, sourcing and delivery of training is all coordinated by the Skillnet network itself, enabling easy access to training but also moving much of the administrative burden away from the firm.

David Nally, Head of Engagement at Woodie’s highlights what the benefits of engaging with a Skillnet Learning Network were.

“In Woodie’s to date, over 300 of our colleagues have participated in our Seeds for Success programme gaining key developments skills in Retail Customer Service and Selling Skills. Our partnership with Retail Ireland Skillnet has enabled us to deliver a consistent and scalable learning program across our business, which fits around our normal day to day operations. In addition, the program has delivered clear and measurable results in the areas of customer service, colleague engagement, employee retention and succession planning. I would highly recommend employers to consider Skillnet Ireland’s training support, as the partnership has had an extremely positive impact on our business.”

Since 2015, nearly €2M has been awarded to establish 18 new Skillnet learning networks. Over 10,000 trainees from circa. 3,700 member companies have benefited from training and upskilling through new sectoral networks within aviation, design, hospitality, manufacturing and life sciences and new regional networks in Wexford, Sligo, and Shannon.

Paul Healy, Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive explains “Sustaining and improving our national competitiveness through upskilling and lifelong learning goes to the heart of what Skillnet Ireland does. As advocates for workforce development, Skillnet Ireland will, in conjunction with our enterprise partners, continue to increase our engagement with SMEs. We will aim to play a key role in supplying skills to the Irish workforce through the development of new and innovative enterprise-led networks.”

The fund will close for applications at 5pm on Thursday, 8 November 2018.

Skillnet Ireland will hold information briefings on this Funding Call in September in Cork, Dublin and Galway.

If your industry federation, industry body or other private sector enterprise group are interested in establishing a new Skillnet learning network, please contact Skillnet Ireland at 01 207 9630 or funding@skillnetireland.ie or visit the funding page.

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