Industry & Business

Skillnet Ireland Launches New Network For Small Firms Sector

Skillnet Ireland Launches New Network For Small Firms Sector

Skillnet Ireland Launches New Network For Small Firms Sector
May 21
12:08 2019

Skillnet Ireland, the national agency responsible for the promotion and facilitation of workforce learning in Ireland, has launched six new networks to address the growing skills needs in the film, television, retail, health and fitness sectors. The six new networks are SFA Skillnet, Screen Skillnet, Leisure, Health & Fitness Skillnet, Fingal Dublin Chamber Skillnet, Dundalk Chamber Skillnet and CSNA Skillnet. 

SFA Skillnet works to improve the competitiveness and productivity of Irish SMEs through training across three core areas: management skills, the talent lifecycle and future skills. SFA Skillnet is promoted by the Small Firms Association. Membership of the network is open to all private enterprises, including sole traders, based in the Republic of Ireland.

The group aims to train over 350 business owners, managers and their teams this year. Director of SFA, Sven Spollen-Behrens, said the group noticed a skills gap and a demand from its members: “Our focus is on helping small business owners to successfully recruit new people and to engage with their staff in a more meaningful way. Training and upskilling forms an important part of our campaign and the new SFA Skillnet will be instrumental in delivering a comprehensive training programme that is focused on the needs of small business owners and their team.”

With a proven track record in developing innovative learning networks, Skillnet Ireland through its 65+ strong community currently supports over 16,000 companies, particularly SMEs, in sectors and regions across the country.

Skillnet Ireland works closely with these networks to address emerging skills needs, by designing bespoke programmes and qualifications across multiple sectors such as; manufacturing, agri-business, ICT, engineering, pharma, medtech, hospitality and construction related disciplines.

Speaking at the launch Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnet Ireland, said: “In order to remain competitive, businesses need to invest in their greatest asset, their employees. Promoting continuous learning and upskilling will not only improve productivity; all the evidence shows it actually increases employee engagement and staff retention.

“These new networks will drive greater levels of training and management development within a wide variety of sectors. By facilitating industry led collaboration with training and education providers Skillnet Ireland will address the specific skills gaps and shortages that employers face. This will ensure Ireland has the breadth of skills needed for businesses to grow, which is a key element of the Government’s economic and employment strategy.”

Skillnet Ireland networks operates under a joint investment model whereby learning networks can apply to receive up to 50 percent of the cost of training from Skillnet Ireland, and the remainder of costs are funded in matching contributions from participating businesses in the learning network. The approach has received international recognition as a model of best practice from the OECD, amongst others.

Funding applications for SMEs

Skillnet Ireland is also seeking applications from new groups of ambitious businesses aiming to address challenges through upskilling and reskilling. Applications for funding are open until September 30th 2019. To apply, visit


Pictured at the launch were L-R: Geraldine Lavin, SFA Skillnet Network Manager; Paul Healy, Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive; Tracey Donnery, Skillnet Ireland Executive Director; and Rohit Thakral, SFA Skillnet Steering Group Member.

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