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EU Report highlights Skillnet Ireland as best practice example

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The European Commission’s Skills for Smart Industrial Specialisation and Digital Transformation report has featured Skillnet Ireland as an example of best practice. Skillnet Ireland was identified as one of two National Authorities throughout the European Union, and the only Irish organisation, to be used as a case study of how a national agency can support smart industrial specialisation, industry’s digital transformation and as well as the development of high-tech T-shaped skills that the Commission sees as vital to the Skills for Industry Strategy. Click here to continue reading.

Skillnet Ireland recognised as Best Agency Support to Business

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Skillnet Ireland has been recognised as the ‘Best Agency Support to Business’ for 2019 by the InBusiness Recognition Awards. The awards took place at The Westbury in Dublin on  Thursday 12 December.

The InBusiness Recognition Awards aim to honour and celebrate success, achievement and ambition within Irish business and to acknowledge the contributions of individuals to grow business in this country. Congratulations to all the award winners of the InBusiness Recognition Awards 2019.

Commenting on the award, Paul Healy, Chief Executive of Skillnet Ireland said;

“2019 was a milestone year for Skillnet Ireland as we celebrated our 20th anniversary. In those twenty years we have built a strong foundation and connections with industry, Government and educational institutes. This has put us in an ideal position to respond quickly and effectively to the challenge’s businesses face across the economy.

Being recognised for ‘Best Agency Support to Business’ at the InBusiness Recognition Awards is a great honour for us. It reflects not only the work of the Skillnet Ireland team but that of our network managers, our industry representative bodies and the Skillnet steering groups that drive the success of each Skillnet learning network that provide the foundation to enable businesses to succeed through workforce development”.

Budget 2020: Increase in funding to drive productivity amongst businesses

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Skillnet Ireland, the business support agency responsible for the promotion and facilitation of workforce development, has welcomed the Government’s decision to increase its allocation by 28% in Budget 2020.

This represents funding by Government to Skillnet Ireland of €35.9M for 2020. The Agency operates on a cost sharing basis with industry, with the total investment in upskilling by Skillnet Ireland in 2020 likely to exceed €60M when employer contributions are added.

Government has placed a clear emphasis on the importance of skills in assisting businesses to become more responsive to a rapidly changing world. The increase in funding will support Skillnet Ireland in achieving actions set out in Governments Future Jobs Ireland strategy, particularly in relation to SME productivity and digital skills development.

Commenting on the increased funding Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. said:

“Budget 2020 continues this Government’s determination to develop a world-renowned education system. In a rapidly changing workplace, in-employment upskilling and lifelong learning is now a fundamental requirement for every worker. Through Skillnet Ireland we are making the investments needed to equip Irish businesses and workers with the tools to shape their own future.”

Skillnet Ireland works in partnership with 50 industry bodies and enterprise clusters, providing training and innovation supports to over 16,000 businesses, and upskilling 56,000 workers throughout the country every year.

Speaking after the Budget 2020 announcement Skillnet Ireland Chairperson, Brendan McGinty said;

“Skillnet Ireland gives employers a direct voice in how the resources of the National Training Fund are directed. Independent evaluations of our programmes have consistently demonstrated that Skillnet Ireland’s enterprise-led approach is generating highly specialised knowledge on employment and training related issues, resulting in greater alignment between labour market needs and the responses that are delivered. This additional €8M allocation in funding clearly signals Government’s commitment to supporting the talent demands of Irish businesses.”

Skillnet Ireland’s focus for 2020 will include addressing the technology skills-gaps within organisations, and boosting productivity through targeted workforce development initiatives, particularly for SMEs.

“There are immediate challenges confronting enterprise in Ireland not least of which is the disruptive effect of Brexit, but also the question of how our businesses can seize the immense opportunity presented by the digital transformation. What unites these challenges is upskilling and talent development. We welcome today’s announcement from Government which will enable Skillnet Ireland to further advance our work on these priorities.” said Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive, Paul Healy.

Sinéad Keogh, Ibec Director and industry promoter of the Irish Medtech Skillnet, Connected Health Skillnet and First Polymer Training Skillnet stated:

“Through Skillnet Ireland our member companies determine for themselves the solutions to the upskilling and innovation demands of their sector. The work of our Skillnets has been transformational for companies in the medtech, polymer and engineering industries operating throughout Ireland.   It is encouraging to see Government continuing to recognise the value that Skillnet Ireland is creating in our economy, and Governments ongoing commitment to this key resource for Irish business.”

Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber and industry promoter of Cork Chamber Skillnet added:

“Balanced regional growth is vital for Ireland’s long-term prosperity, and developing the regional talent base is fundamental to this objective. Cork Chamber Skillnet offers our member companies a competitive edge, boosting their productivity and staff engagement. Cork Chamber welcomes Government’s decision to increase Skillnet Ireland funding by 28% in 2020.”

John Phelan of Dublin Business Innovation Centre and industry promoter of the Animation Skillnet and Screen Skillnet concluded:

“The technologies of the creative industries are rapidly changing in response to the digital transformation. Companies in these sectors need to constantly focus on innovation and upskilling so they remain agile and globally competitive. Our businesses deeply value our partnership with Skillnet Ireland and our joint investment in the exceptional talent of the creative industry Ireland.”


Skillnet Ireland’s 60+ nationwide learning networks supports 16,000 companies and 56,000 trainees each year.

Clear Customs: Equip your business to deal with any new customs challenges

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Continued uncertainty around Brexit has highlighted the importance of capacity-building in the customs intermediary sector and the necessity to boost ‘in-house’ customs capacity amongst business that are regularly trading with the UK. Delays at customs can result in disruption to both business and customers. Taking steps now to train key staff on how to effectively complete a customs declaration helps pre-empt Brexit related customs challenges.

Supported by Getting Ireland Brexit Ready, the Clear Customs free training initiative developed by Skillnet Ireland will be delivered by CILT Skillnet at several training locations nationwide. Clear Customs offers immediate and free customs training to Customs intermediaries, and to businesses who frequently trade with or through the UK.

In order to ensure your business is Brexit ready, please register your interest in Clear Customs training now.

The Clear Customs initiative is led by Skillnet Ireland, the Government agency responsible for workforce development, together with Enterprise Ireland. The training programme has been designed in close collaboration with key industry associations and will be delivered by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Skillnet, in conjunction with the Irish Exporters Association and Irish International Freight Association.

Minister Humphreys Launches Country’s First Master’s in Blockchain through Skillnet Ireland

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The Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys T.D. will today launch Ireland’s first ever Master’s in Blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technologies) in the Davenport Hotel in Dublin.

The programme has been developed by Skillnet Ireland’s Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet, in collaboration with Dublin City University.

The launch coincides with Blockchain Ireland week, a Government initiative focused on promoting the growth and development of Blockchain technology in the country. Speaking at the launch, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D. said:

Ireland is a global technology leader, including in blockchain technology. Nine of the top ten US technology companies operate in Ireland, along with nine of the top ten global companies recruiting in the blockchain industry. Our aim is always to be proactive in anticipating and serving the needs of the industry and the people who work within it. This programme directly supports objectives set out in the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland initiative. The first of its kind in Ireland, this Masters programme will help ensure the country has all the skills necessary to become a global hub for this new technology.

In response to the National Blockchain strategy and aligned to the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland initiative’s aim of enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent, Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet worked with Blockchain Ireland to identify what skills were needed in this sector. This Masters programme was developed as a result. Skillnet Ireland awarded funding to Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet, under its Future Skills programme, to further the programme development in collaboration with industry.

Ireland can be at the forefront of Blockchain revolution,” said Chief Executive of Skillnet Ireland Paul Healy

“Blockchain technology has now penetrated multiple industry sectors such as banking and finance, food supply-chains and medtech .  A highly skilled workforce is one of the essential ingredients for Ireland to be a leader in Blockchain technologies. This Master’s programme will help ensure we have the right skills available for companies and IT professionals to enhance their blockchain technology capability and to seize the immense opportunities that are available” he added.

The Masters in Blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technologies) will be delivered by industry specialists in collaboration with Dublin City University.

The programme will be primarily taught online, part time, over a two-year period.

“DCU is proud to collaborate with Skillnet Ireland on the first of its kind Master’s programme in Blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technologies),” said President of Dublin City University, Professor Brian MacCraith

“This programme will produce graduates equipped with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in this rapidly changing sector. This project displays the combined strengths of higher education and enterprise networks in the face of new challenges we all face in our quest to flourish as an economy,” he added.

Blockchain was first introduced as the underlying platform for the famous cryptocurrency Bitcoin, over a decade ago. Since then, it has been gaining popularity and has become one of the fastest growing technologies of recent times. In 2018, over $5 billion was invested in the sector by venture capital firms, a significant increase from the previous year’s $1.5 billion. Experts have considered it to be the best technology created in recent years, after the internet itself.

 “The lack of technical Blockchain skills is of national and international concern as it is a significant inhibitor to Blockchain adoption in companies across key industries including manufacturing, supply-chain, health, food, aviation, finance and the public sector,” said Dave Feenan, Acting Network Manager for Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet

“This new Master’s will provide Ireland will a real opportunity to upskill our already excellent IT professionals, preparing them for jobs of the future. The synergy between industry and education means these professionals will have the practical tools needed to bring the benefits of Blockchain technology to a variety sectors,” he added.

This course is aimed at IT professionals working in the Republic of Ireland. To qualify for direct entry, they must have a Level 8 Honours Degree (2.2) or higher in Computer Science, Computing, Computer Applications or a related discipline. Applicants without these entry requirements may be considered if they can demonstrate previously obtained competence equivalent to the entry requirements.

Applications are now open for this new Master’s beginning in September 2019. The closing date for applications is July 23rd 2019. In the first instance, applicants should submit their CV directly to info@ictskillnet.ie For more information on the Master’s degree in Blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technologies) at DCU click here.

Skillnet Ireland Launches Six New Networks as Demand for Upskilling Grows

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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; Screen SkillnetSFA SkillnetFingal Dublin Chamber Skillnet (Dublin)Dundalk Chamber Skillnet (Louth)CSNA Skillnet and Leisure, Health & Fitness Skillnet were unveiled yesterday (May 13th 2019) at the Virgin Media Television studios in Ballymount, Dublin.

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.”


Click here for more details…https://www.skillnetireland.ie/skillnet-ireland-launches-six-new-networks-as-demand-for-upskilling-grows/

Minister launches results of National Employer Survey 2018

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The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. today launched the National Employer Survey 2018. The survey, completed in Q2 2018, has shown that employers are very satisfied with graduate recruits across a range of personal and workplace attributes, including computer and technical literacy, working effectively with others and numeracy/processing numerical data.

The National Employer Survey is a joint project undertaken by the Higher Education Authority, Quality and Qualifications Ireland and SOLAS which aims to ascertain employers’ views on the overall quality of recent higher education and further education and training (FET) and graduates, any barriers to graduate recruitment and collaboration between business and educational institutions.

Responses to the survey came from 760 organizations, 535 of which had recruited recent graduates from the higher education and further education sectors.

Some of the key findings included:

  • Overall satisfaction with higher education graduates was 86%. For FET graduates overall satisfaction was 84%.
  • Satisfaction levels for higher education graduates are highest for computer and technology literacy at 88%, working effectively with others at 87% and effective verbal communication at 85%.
  • FET graduates scored highest for working effectively with others at 89%, effective verbal communication at 85% and working effectively on their own at 85%.
  • The satisfaction with the computer and technology literacy of FET graduates is very high at 83%.
  • Other strong results were recorded for working effectively with others at 87% for higher education and 89% for FET and effective verbal communication at 85% for both sets of graduates.

Launching the results of the survey, Minister McHugh said: “I am delighted to note the high level of satisfaction that employers express in graduates. First and foremost what this survey shows is that we have a very high caliber of graduate coming out of the third level.

“Employers clearly see the value that graduates from Ireland’s education and training sectors are adding to their business. And this is improving all the time.

“Graduates are fulfilling the needs of all parts of the economy and their positive impact is being felt in all companies, regardless of how big or small, the sector or where they are headquartered.”

Paul O’Toole, interim CEO, HEA, said: “Irish employers are generally very happy with the quality of our graduates and the universities, institutes and colleges should take credit for that. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. With technological and other changes happening at an increasing pace, we need to enable graduates to be ready to adapt to whatever future challenges the workplace holds.”

Conor J Dunne, Acting CEO, SOLAS said: “We are pleased to note that employer satisfaction levels with further education and training graduates are at a similar level to third level graduates. This year’s report has also provided more detail on how further education and training graduates are viewed, both in terms of technical and personal skills, with our graduates scoring highly in areas such as effective communication, working with others and reliability.”

Other survey results included:

  • Collaboration between education and industry is high with work placements being the most popular form of collaboration.
  • Some 86% of employers support staff in continuing professional development. In-company training was the most popular with 73% of employers supporting professional development.

Minister McHugh said: “There’s high satisfaction with the engagement between industry and colleges, institutions and universities and I am delighted to see employers indicating that they are engaging on work placements, upskilling of staff and apprenticeships.

“The provision of work placements is particularly important for students in gaining experience of the world of work and it is an area we should keep building on as we meet the demand for skills.”

Lower rates of satisfaction were recorded for graduate attributes related to commercial awareness, entrepreneurship, and foreign languages. The Government has already put in place measures to address these areas including an increased focus on employer engagement through Regional Skills Fora, ongoing work on the Entrepreneurship Education Policy Statement and the implementation of Languages Connect, the Foreign Languages in Education Strategy which was published in December 2017.

Notes for Editors

The survey was conducted by way of a CATI telephone survey, amongst a representative sample of enterprises/businesses, by way of a pre-agreed questionnaire designed for the project by the HEA, SOLAS and the Department of Education and Skills. Fieldwork for the survey was conducted by Behaviours and Attitudes for Fitzpatrick Associates in June and July 2018. 760 organizations completed the survey.

For the purposes of this survey:

  • The term graduate includes persons qualifying from higher education institutions (e.g. Universities and Institutes of Technology) and also persons qualifying from further education and training where a wide range of programmes in terms of levels and fields of study to a diverse group of learners are provided (e.g. National Craft Certificates for qualified apprentices (e.g. plumber, electrician etc.), FETAC3 qualifications (e.g. childcare, hairdressing etc.) and specific industry related qualifications.
  • A graduate is someone who has been recruited within the last 24 months and who have also completed their qualification within the last 24 months.

While not directly comparable due to different technical designs, a comparison of the 2015 and 2018 surveys indicates a number of trends:

  • The most positively rated graduate workplace attribute on both surveys is computer and technical literacy.
  • The least positively rated aspects of both surveys are entrepreneurial skills and foreign language capability, although satisfaction with both aspects has improved.
  • Satisfaction with effective verbal and written communication also seems to have improved since 2015.
  • Satisfaction levels for personal attributes in this survey are broadly similar to those registered in the 2015 survey.