Monday, 2 February 2015

Businesses encouraged to take up training fund to address skills gap

Skillnets – the national agency responsible for funding and supporting training networks – has announced details, of a new training fund aimed at private sector companies to assist businesses in addressing their current and future skills needs.

A group of businesses from the same region, or specialising in the same sector, can collectively apply to develop a Skillnets training network, and draw down funding support for the development and delivery of training.  Businesses can be of any size, from a sole trader to multi-national, and the fund will also be open to existing industry federations, industry bodies or enterprise groups.  

Speaking at the launch of the call Alan Nuzum, CEO of Skillnets, said:  “The economy is now in recovery mode and many businesses are moving from a hand-to-mouth approach to looking towards growth and expansion.  Having the appropriate skills, including addressing future skill needs to deal with expansion, is vital for sustainable development.  Skillnets is pleased to announce a new call for Skillnets training networks so that enterprises emerging from the downturn can be assisted in skills development.”

The total fund available for new networks is initially €350,000, with potential for further expansion of the fund.  Skillnets operates under a joint investment model whereby participating training networks can apply to receive up to 50 per cent of the cost of training from Skillnets, and the remainder of costs are funded in cash contributions from participating companies in the training network.  There are two closing dates for the new funding call:  23rd March & 31st July 2015.

Skillnets already supports 57 training networks in a wide range of sectors ranging from manufacturing to information technology and food / beverage to name some and mixed sectoral training networks across many regions. In the last round of funding, a new Animation Skillnet was set up whose members include Cartoon Saloon, the two-times Oscar nominated studio with “Song of the Sea” currently up for the next Oscar awards.

Paul Young, Chief Executive of Cartoon Saloon, said: “Animation and games are creative and technically driven industries and our teams have to be constantly up-skilled in order to compete in this truly global market. The Animation Skillnet is excellent in offering innovative, relevant training designed by leading practitioners within the industry and facilitates excellent networking and sharing of ideas across the sector.”

According to Alan Nuzum: “There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that businesses in sectors with high growth levels are competing for the same staff in order to meet their current skill needs.  However, this approach does not offer sustainability and can be hugely disruptive if these staff move on.  Addressing current skill needs, and predicting future skill requirements that will help a business grow, is a critical consideration for enterprises wanting to thrive.  By investing in existing staff, not alone will businesses manage skills requirements in a sustainable way, but staff loyalty and commitment can also emerge as a pay-back.

“This new call for training networks is a timely reminder to businesses who are starting to look at growth strategies that skills are key component of business development. Skills shortages have dogged certain sectors in the past, particularly during the economic boom.  It’s important that the lessons of this are learned and acted upon.

“Collaboratively, through creating a training network and leveraging Skillnets support, businesses can develop and access high-quality training at an accessible price-point.  The networks structure – both in a regional or sectoral setting – can also offer secondary benefits such as potential for business collaboration,” he added.

Officiating at today’s launch was Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English.  According to Minister English: “A key element of the Government’s growth and employment strategy is ensuring Ireland has the quality and quantity of skills to attract, retain and grow job opportunities and investment.  SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy, providing the bulk of Irish jobs and it’s imperative that they have the flexibility and skills to develop and expand.  Through continual training, companies can ensure resilience and growth potential for the future. Skillnets-supported training means that employers can access high-quality and sector-specific training with affordable financial investment.”

For networks seeking to access the new call by Skillnets, full details are available on or direct contact can be made with a member of the Skillnets’ team: / 01-2079630.