- State agency, Skillnets, shows 11% rise in training uptake by Irish firms, according to an independent evaluation published by Indecon
- Demand for in-employment training grows from SMEs as job-seeker training falls
- 42% of SMEs have already seen impact from exchange rate fluctuations as a result of Brexit
- 21.7% of financial firms see Brexit as a significant opportunity
- Training and up-skilling recommended as key levers to help firms deal with challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit
Skillnets, the national state agency responsible for training networks, has published its annual independent evaluation report into its work. The report, carried out by Indecon International Economic Consultants shows that Irish companies are reacting to the economic recovery by investing significantly in training again. In 2016, Skillnets was allocated €16.2 million from the National Training Fund and operated 63 networks across its programmes. Indecon reported that Skillnets is aligned with a wide range of labour market and skills development policies, and is delivering against several government strategies.
Investment in training is a strong indicator of how a business sees its future and of its desire to retain and develop staff. The improvement in the economy is evidenced in the increased demand and growth in training activity. In 2016, Skillnets provided almost 345,000 training days for over 50,000 trainees. More than 14,000 firms were members of training networks in 2016, an annual increase of almost 11%.
“What we are seeing is an increase in business confidence coupled with a desire to be prepared for the future” according to Skillnets Chairman Brendan McGinty. “Irish firms are now investing heavily in training. Companies are demonstrating their commitment by the fact that for every €1 of state funding invested through Skillnets, member companies provided €1.16 of matching funds in 2016. Demand for Skillnets training has kept pace with employment growth in the economy over the last two years, and there are signs that this will continue.”
The report also contains a recommendation that Skillnets provide specific support to companies in relation to Brexit. This comes on foot of findings that show 42% of member companies say they have already experienced an impact from exchange rate fluctuations since the Brexit referendum. However, over 21% of firms operating in the international financial services space believe that Brexit offers a significant opportunity for expansion. Skillnets Chief Executive Paul Healy says that identifying the right training will be crucial to meeting the challenges Brexit may bring.
“The full implications of Brexit will take some time to be completely identified, and developing appropriate strategies to respond to Brexit is of course both complex and multi-faceted. However, a greater investment in the up-skilling of our enterprise leaders and employees is surely a central component of our response. Moderating the impact of Brexit on Irish firms, particularly SMEs, will be a priority for Skillnets over the coming years. An industry-led and flexible approach is fundamental to Skillnets, and has brought our model international recognition for the quality and impact of our training programmes.”