Skillnet Ireland – Without Upskilling, Businesses in Ireland Could Lose Competitive Advantage
Skillnet Ireland (formerly Skillnets), the national agency for workforce development, has been launched at an event in Co Clare to promote upskilling within enterprise. Its mission is to facilitate increased participation in enterprise training and workforce learning in Ireland. Skillnet Ireland brings together 67 Skillnet Enterprise Learning Networks across the country under one unified brand and strategy.
A recent report into Lifelong Learning Participation Among Adults showed that at 7%, Ireland is falling well behind other EU Member States, including Denmark (31%), Sweden and (29%) and Finland (25%). In order to meet the target, set out in the National Skills Strategy, Ireland needs to double its participation rate to 15% by 2025.
Speaking about the launch of Skillnet Ireland, Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD said: “We have set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. Upskilling and lifelong learning are critical to delivering on this ambition. This year we will reach over 50,000 employed learners with programmes to help workers grow and develop in their current career or to change direction if they wish to.
“Skills are central to our competitiveness as a nation and government policy is targeted at both protecting and enhancing that. The promotion of lifelong learning and adapting to technological advances has always been at the core of workforce development.”
He continued: “Skillnet Ireland plays a key role in increasing the skills supply, and strategically looking at the needs of our workforce for business and economic growth through its learning networks. Fulfilling the skill needs of the economy and ensuring that we are ‘future proofed’ to meet new challenges, is an important part of delivering on our ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.”
The new Skillnet Ireland agency was launched at an event hosted by eight Skillnet Ireland Networks in the mid-west at Dromoland Castle, Co Clare: Shannon Chamber Skillnet, Aviation and Aerospace Skillnet, ICBE Business Excellence Skillnet, Irish MedTech Skillnet, Lean and Green Skillnet, Limerick Chamber Skillnet and Next Level Skillnet in conjunction with Mid-West Regional Skills.
At the event, Brendan McGinty, Chairperson of Skillnet Ireland, outlined the new company vision. “The launch marks a major milestone for our organisation. This is much more than just a name change. It’s about asserting our standing as an established national agency with a deep heritage in enterprise-led training. We are also looking to the future: the challenges of promoting the upskilling agenda are well understood and Skillnet Ireland is well placed to make a significant contribution to the national skills agenda across our economy’s sectors and regions.”
Speaking at the event, Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive Paul Healy called on employers to urgently prioritise staff development to ensure future growth and competitiveness. “The world of work is changing rapidly and as a result, people’s skills are becoming irrelevant, redundant or dated more quickly. Employers are distracted by a myriad of priorities and responsibilities and often don’t give staff training the emphasis it needs. If Ireland is to meet the targets set out in the 2025 National Skills Strategy, remain globally competitive and navigate the challenges of Brexit, all employers need to prioritise investment in lifelong learning, now and into the future. Skillnet Ireland now having a compelling, joined up brand in the market will make it easier for all of us to promote the importance of workforce development and to reach new employers and trainees.”
Businesses from across the Mid-West region came together at the event in Dromoland Castle to share strategies for recruiting and retaining talent within their organisations. Themed ‘Upskilling the Mid-West – Innovative Ways to Attract and Retain Talent’, high profile businesses such as Jaguar Land Rover, Lufthansa Technik Shannon and Northern Trust spoke about the challenges of retaining talent and future skills challenges.
At the event, Skillnet Ireland also announced that an additional €1 million in funding is now available to its Skillnet networks and their member companies who want to address the rapidly changing work environment by taking a more proactive approach to upskilling their employees. Skillnet Ireland has identified several high-growth sectors where skills are in high demand, including ICT, software, life sciences, bio-pharma, animation and international financial services. Chief Executive Paul Healy explained: “The impact of AI, autonomous systems and robotics on jobs is impacting on the skills needed and how we work. Employers need to adapt to this ever-changing work environment, and I would strongly encourage them to take advantage of Skillnet Ireland subsidised training – and to prioritise staff development in every sector and region.”
If you would like your organisation to grow and succeed, get in touch with Skillnet Ireland and avail of a wide range of funding, supports and training services to assist your team. For further information visit www.skillnetireland.ie.
Skillnet Ireland brings together 67 Skillnet Enterprise Learning Networks across the country under one unified brand and strategy. Pictured at the launch were (L-R): Tracey Donnery, Skillnet Ireland Executive Director; Helen Downes, Shannon Chamber Chief Executive; Brendan McGinty, Skillnet Ireland Chairperson; Paul Healy, Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive; and Dave Flynn, Skillnet Ireland Executive Director.