Skillnets highlights need for management skills in SMEs to deal with Brexit challenge

Minister Bruton launches Skillnets Statement of Strategy 2016-2019

Meeting the future skills needs of Irish small- and medium-sized businesses and responding to the challenges and opportunities of Brexit will be key priorities for Skillnets, the enterprise-led agency with responsibility for the promotion and facilitation of workplace training and up-skilling, in the coming years, according to the agency’s Chairman, Brendan McGinty.

The strategy was developed following a thorough consultation process with key stakeholders and is closely aligned to the National Skills Strategy 2025 and other relevant policies. Over the next four years, Skillnets will be driven by three strategic goals that take into consideration our funding, national policy concerning the importance of developing skills and talent, the needs of enterprise, and the economic context:

  • Training effectiveness, impact and relevance will be core to our activities. Skillnets will promote continuous improvement in its learning experiences offered to SMEs and be a model for training excellence in an enterprise context.
  • Supply of the specific skills and future skills that impact the growth potential and competitiveness of Irish enterprise.
  • Increased participation of employers in the Skillnets proposition and lifelong learning. In doing so, Skillnets will be a key enabler in sustaining national competiveness through the up-skilling of those in employment.

Speaking at the launch of Skillnets’ Statement of Strategy 2016-2019, Mr McGinty said: “The UK as a trading partner is particularly important to the SME sector. Brexit will undoubtedly present challenges to business owners but its impact can be moderated by specific training interventions that enhance productivity, that build the capacity to enter new markets, and that boost management competence overall.

“Our model is embedded in enterprise and we are flexible in our approach to enterprise-led training. We can move quickly to address skills needs across Irish business and respond to these ever-changing demands”.

Skillnets delivers enterprise-led training programmes nationally for workers and job-seekers through a subsidised training networks scheme. Over the next four years, the Agency will focus firmly on supporting enterprise growth and development. According to Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnets: “A critical challenge for the Irish economy is to supply the quantity and quality of skills required for 200,000 new jobs targeted by the Government over the next five years, whilst simultaneously meeting the demand for an estimated 400,000 job replacements by 2020.

“Renewed growth in the economy has led us to observe that demand for specialised talent is already outstripping supply in key sectors such as the ICT, life sciences, and international financial services sectors. Indeed, through our networks, we are also aware of growing skills demands across a range of other sectors and occupational categories.

“Skillnets will be playing an increased role in maintaining a supply of the specific and future skills that impact on the growth potential of Irish firms. By working on the ground with our member companies, we are exceptionally well placed with the intelligence and insights to ensure training interventions are relevant to the needs of enterprise and are of a high standard.

“For example, our Future Skills Needs Programme (FSNP) is designed to address emerging skills needs, and we have a track record in developing innovative new courses, including a series of bespoke qualifications in software development, medical technologies and aviation finance.”

Skillnets has also indicated in its strategy that it will increase its contribution to the development of labour market policy in the area of skills development, based on analysis and research drawn from its broad access to enterprise.

As part of its strategy development, Skillnets reflected on its achievements to date and its reputation with enterprise. Chairman of Skillnets, Brendan McGinty said: “In developing our new strategy, we engaged with enterprise to sense-check our approach in supporting enterprise-led training. What came back was a strong endorsement of what we do and why we do it.”

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD said: “Recognising that the war for talent is now one of the most important factors for job-creation, ambitious action to increase our skills supply must be a priority. We must ensure that we continue to increase the skills supply, by offering up-skilling and re-skilling opportunities, which will be vital if we are to reach our target to create 200,000 additional new jobs by 2020.” 

The external links below lead to the Skillnets website for supporting documentation. 


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Enda Hogan is a Programme Support Manager with Skillnets. Enda's primary role within the ManagementWorks team is around marketing and promotion in order to build awareness of the ManagementWorks suite of programmes. He is the editor of the monthly newsletter - Management Matters!

Enda has twenty years of management experience and has worked extensively with SMEs, training networks and membership organisations in Ireland to improve business performance through investment in training and professional development.