The Skillnets Annual Report 2010 was published this week, and reported that last year saw €17.3 million invested in developing the skills of some 39,000 people in Ireland. Skillnets proactively responds to enterprise needs by focusing on facilitating the changing needs of employers through best practice training, while simultaneously meeting the needs of the unemployed. Of the fund, €8.4 million was invested from the National Training Fund (NTF ) and €8.9 million from companies. Trainees benefited from some 185,000 training days, delivered by more than 60 Skillnet networks across the country. In Co Galway, approximately 850 companies took part in the programme with approximately 2,175 trainees and 17,450 training days delivered.
Domhnall MacDomhnaill, chairman of Skillnets, said: “Over the last 18 months the strategic direction of Skillnets has been adapted and fine-tuned to respond to the need for investment in our people, both employed and unemployed, to develop sustainable economic growth for the country. Improving the skills and competencies of our workforce will be critical in our efforts to attract substantial levels of foreign direct investment and to enable our domestic companies to continue to compete with the best in the world. Ninety four per cent of companies funded by Skillnets are classified as SMEs. These are the companies that the economy is depending on to kick start economic growth. I am pleased to report that Skillnets is playing its part in supporting these SMEs."
In a 2010 survey with member companies more than four out of five companies (82 per cent ) agreed that Skillnets training helped them to fill skill gaps while 68 per cent agreed that it improved productivity. A high proportion (70 per cent ) of companies reported that Skillnets training helped to achieve market developments such as enhancements to products and services. Furthermore, 84 per cent agreed that Skillnets training represents good value for money and 89 per cent agreed that they would recommend to other companies to join a Skillnet network.
On the subject of supporting job-seekers, CEO of Skillnets Alan Nuzum said: "There are two questions that are consistently being asked by policy makers regarding providing training to job-seekers: What training do job-seekers need? How do you keep job-seekers connected to the workplace? The Skillnets model and its approach to supporting job-seekers is the solution to these questions. Job-seekers need training that is in demand by enterprise and that is what Skillnets provides: enterprise-led, industry-driven training. In answer to the second question, job-seekers who are training with a Skillnet network maintain a connection with the workplace both by training alongside people in employment, as well as potentially experiencing work placements in relevant companies within their sector/region.
“In 2010 3,227 job-seekers availed of 26,000 training days through our supports for job-seekers and our pilot job-seekers support programme (JSSP ) blended training with workplace experience and gave unemployed trainees greater access to potential employers. The Department of Education and Skills (DES ) has approved the mainstreaming of the job-seekers support programme (JSSP ) in 2011.”