18% More Businesses Investing in their Workforce

Lifelong learning is key to business growth, according to Skillnets report

Thousands more businesses are prioritising staff training and retention as they compete for the talent needed to expand their enterprise. That’s the message from Skillnets - the national agency responsible for funding and supporting training networks - as it launched its Annual Report for 2015 today.

Figures from the report reveal that the number of businesses accessing Skillnets supported training grew by 18% in 2015, with over 12,800 businesses investing in their staff across a range of sectors. Over 321,000 training days were delivered during 2015 through 5,842 training courses. Eighty-five percent of the businesses that benefited from investment in training through Skillnets in 2015 were SMEs with 250 staff or under.

According to Skillnets Chairman, Brendan McGinty, businesses are battling for talent in a competitive marketplace, resulting in many looking inwards to develop existing resources to meet their growth objectives. “Behind the country’s pattern of economic growth during 2015, thousands of Irish and foreign-owned businesses have expanded to meet increased demand by investing in their workforce. A renewed focus on lifelong learning is also fast becoming a priority for employers as a key tool for retaining staff.

“During 2015, Skillnets member businesses invested €11.7m towards programmes, with Skillnets investing a further €13.9m, totalling €25.6m investment in training for enterprise. By investing in subsidised training through Skillnets and developing their people, employers can harness the power of their existing internal resources to improve both the capability and competiveness of the organisation.”

Skillnets CEO Paul Healy further added: “For businesses, it’s not just about investing in workforce training alone, the quality and impact of the learning experience is critical for adding maximum long-term value. Undertaking detailed training needs analysis, forecasting market trends and projecting future skills requirements are all core elements of the Skillnet proposition. Ninety percent of participating businesses surveyed recently by independent consultants Indecon reported that the design of Skillnets training was highly relevant to their business development needs.”

In addition, Skillnets’ ManagementWorks programme, which offers management development training and mentoring specifically designed to support the SME sector, increased the number of training days delivered to business owners and managers by 20% during 2015. A recent independent evaluation indicated that half of those (50%) who had participated in ManagementWorks training reported it had contributed to increased business turnover. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed reported that ManagementWorks training had increased their competitiveness.


While Skillnets’ core mandate  is focused on the provision of training to individuals who are in employment, Skillnets also provided valuable supports to 6,695 job-seekers who undertook 60,419 training days in 2015.  Fifty-three percent of these trainees were long-term unemployed and 2,721 job-seekers undertook Skillnets’ Job-seekers Support Programme, which facilitates participation in industry training along with focused work placement programmes.

Skillnets CEO Paul Healy noted: “The independent evaluation undertaken by Indecon for 2015 showed that 55% of job-seekers who engaged with the Skillnets Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP) went on to secure employment mainly in sectors where skills shortages have been defined. Another 15% moved on to pursue further education and training opportunities after completing the programme. This demonstrates the quality of the Skillnets Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP) as an employment activation initiative.”

Other highlights:

Skillnets operates through four main programmes:  Training Networks Programme (TNP); Finuas Networks Programme; ManagementWorks; and Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP).  Skillnets training schemes focus on facilitating increased competitiveness and growth in industry sectors which are of strategic importance to the economy. Skillnets also plays a central role in enhancing the general competency of lifelong learners. Skillnets programmes are accessed through 63 networks which are organised according to sector / geographical location.

Article Published: 11/07/2016