Galway SMEs encouraged to grow their business with new training fund

Skillnets, the national agency responsible for funding and supporting training networks has announced details of a new training fund worth nearly half a million euro (€450,000 ), aimed at assisting private sector businesses to grow, by 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 about the training fund Brendan Mc Ginty, Chairman of Skillnets, said: “It is a progressive time for Galway enterprise, with an increase in the number of people in employment, as businesses look to expand. Having the appropriate skills, including addressing future skill needs to deal with this expansion, is vital for sustainable development. The success of our open call for Skillnets training networks last year, which resulted in the establishment of 11 new training networks, indicates the growing demand among businesses for relevant and innovative solutions to address skills shortages in the workplace. Skillnets is pleased to announce another new fund for Skillnets training networks this year, so that more enterprises looking to expand their business can be assisted in skills development.”

The total fund available for new networks is €450,000. 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 businesses in the training network. The first closing date for the new funding call is 15th March, with a second closing date in November 2016.

Skillnets already supports 63 training networks in a wide range of sectors from manufacturing to information technology and food / beverage and mixed sectoral training networks across many regions.

One of the networks set up from last year’s funding is Aviation & Aerospace Skillnet, which provides training to the aviation and aerospace sector. Part 21 Design Ireland, based in Ireland’s aviation hub in Shannon, is a member of the network.

Mick Malone, Head of Airworthiness at Part 21 Design Ireland said Ireland is one of the leading players in the international aviation industry and in order to keep our competitive edge in a global marketplace, our staff need to be continually up-skilled to meet these demands.

“Courses offered by the Aviation & Aerospace Skillnet form an essential part of our ongoing staff training. This type of relevant, practical training is invaluable as it ensures our staff are up-skilled in areas critical to our business.”

According to Brendan McGinty, 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.

“The collaborative nature of training networks enables members to be more responsive to changing market needs, working together to identify and meet future skills requirements in their industry, so their business stays ahead of the curve.

Investing in the skills of existing staff can result in immediate cost-savings and significantly add value to the business, leading to such advantages as improved productivity and increased profits. Employers can also enjoy additional benefits of staff loyalty and commitment, which can help achieve greater employee retention levels in an increasingly competitive jobs market. These business benefits can be accomplished with relatively low investment through the Skillnets training network model.”

Skillnets was established in 1999 and is funded from the National Training Fund (NTF ) through the Department of Education and Skills (DES ). It actively supports and works with businesses in Ireland to address their current and future skills needs. It funds groups of companies in the same region / sector, and with similar training needs, through training networks that deliver subsidised training to Irish businesses.

Employer needs are addressed through both the preservation and growth of jobs, focusing on skills to maintain businesses and protect jobs as well as the enhancement of new skills to create new jobs. The needs of unemployed people are addressed through activation and conversion by focusing on integrated training with employees and dedicated conversion courses and work placements in areas of employment potential.

For networks seeking to access the new call by Skillnets, full details are available on www.skillnets.ie/funding or direct contact can be made with a member of the Skillnets team: [email protected] / 01-2079630.

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