Sharp increase in numbers of Irish companies availing of training to improve competitiveness

Skillnets annual report for 2016 was launched on Tuesday 18th July 2017 by CEO, Paul Healy and Chairman, Brendan McGinnity.  Overall the report shows a sharp increase in numbers of Irish companies availing of training to improve competitiveness.  Top line figures from the report show the following :

  • Over 14,000 companies undertook training with Skillnets.
  • 11% increase of Skillnets member companies shows growing focus on building talent for competitiveness
  • 50,000 people undertook training and development through Skillnets in 2016 nationwide
  • Unique Skillnets model, funded jointly by state and enterprise, is helping Irish industry meet challenges

Irish companies are increasingly taking up opportunities for training and up-skilling of staff to meet business needs. Figures from the Annual Report of Skillnets, the national agency responsible for funding and supporting over 60 learning networks, reveal that the number of businesses accessing subsidised training grew by 11%, with over 14,000 businesses investing in their staff across a range of sectors. Ninety-two percent of the member companies that benefited from investment in training through Skillnets in 2016 were SMEs.

“The development and retention of skilled talent is critical to the competitiveness and growth of the Irish economy and to the firms that underpin it” according to Skillnets Chairman, Brendan McGinty. “2016 was a positive year for Skillnets, €25.9m was invested in learning and development through Skillnets networks with member companies committing €12.8m, and a co-investment from Skillnets of a further €13.1m. A growing demand for the Skillnets offering was evident with over 50,000 trainees participating across all of our programmes. A greater investment in the up-skilling of our enterprise leaders and employees will be a central component of our response to the challenges within our economy, including Brexit. Skillnets is well positioned to assist with this challenge.”

2016 also saw the launch of Skillnets’ Statement of Strategy 2016–2019. The strategy contains ambitious actions designed to enable Skillnets make the optimum contribution to the national skills agenda. The strategy is also aligned with Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025 and Action Plan for Education 2017.

The Annual Report also points to some of the key challenges facing Irish Industry in the year ahead. One of the aims of Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025 is to promote the benefits of lifelong learning among individuals, the self-employed and employers. Skillnets Chief Executive, Paul Healy refers to the importance of lifelong learning across all sectors:

“Embedding a culture of lifelong learning within SMEs in Ireland remains a considerable challenge that will require a deep and sustained effort. The SME sector represents over 200,000 enterprises employing 1.3 million people. To enable competitiveness and growth, employers need to engage more deeply in workforce development.”

Skillnets programmes are accessed through 63 networks, which are organised according to sector / geographical location. Skillnets played an integral role in several sectoral and regional policies in 2016 to ensure Ireland maintains a strong talent pool with the development a range of new programmes and qualifications across a range of sectors including food, bio-pharma, software, ICT and international financial services.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Skillnets CEO, Paul Healy said that '2016 was a positive year for our organisation. Our funding levels were increased and due to a continued demand for specialised talent, together with your dedication to increasing employer participation, our membership grew by 11%, with over 14,000 Irish businesses participating with our 63 training networks. A growing demand for the Skillnets offering was also apparent through the 50,000 trainees that participated in our programmes last year.

The preliminary results from the annual independent evaluation of Skillnets-funded programmes, also given within this report, evidence the wide range of benefits experienced by our member companies and trainees.

This report showcases just some of your accomplishments from the past year.  Readers will get a strong sense of the commitment and innovation happening in your networks, and how you are delivering impactful and relevant solutions to your network members'.  The full report can be accessed at

Learning Waves is delighted to be part of the Skillnets organisation and the independent radio sector has benefitted hugely from funding received from Skillnets since 2004. 

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