Recent highlights from Skillnets
July saw the launch of the Skillnets Annual Report for 2016, a positive year for the Skillnets organisation. Our funding levels were increased and due to a continued demand for talent, together with the dedication of networks to increasing employer participation, our membership grew by 11%. There are now over 14,000 Irish businesses participating with our networks. A growing demand for the Skillnets offering was also apparent through the 50,000 trainees that participated in our programmes last year. The preliminary results from the annual independent evaluation of Skillnets-funded programmes, also given within the report, evidence the wide range of benefits experienced by our member companies and trainees. The report also showcases just some of the accomplishments from the past year. Readers will get a strong sense of the commitment and innovation happening throughout our networks. I would like to sincerely thank our network community for their contribution in achieving these results. The Annual Report 2016 is available here.
The implementation of our Statement of Strategy is progressing at pace with a renewed focus on the effectiveness of our programmes and increasing the further participation of SMEs in our networks. Our Programme Management Office (PMO) is overseeing the implementation of a series of enabling plans underpinning the Statement of Strategy. In recent months, the PMO has supported a number of projects focusing on three key areas of priority: network effectiveness, SME management development and a restructuring of our communication activities.
In April the Government announced a consultation process on a proposed Exchequer-Employer Investment Mechanism for Higher Education and Further Education and Skills. The consultation is of great significance for Skillnets as its scope extends to the National Training Fund from which Skillnets is funded. Following close dialogue with our stakeholders, Skillnets made a submission to the consultation which can be viewed here. It is anticipated that decisions on the proposed funding mechanism will be taken by the Government in the context of the 2018 estimates process.
Enhancing management competence is a priority for Skillnets and our networks are supporting their members in this area by delivering a range of management development solutions. Business leaders from across the southeast gathered in Kilkenny to explore opportunities to build greater management capacity at a learning and development conference co-hosted by Waterford Chamber Skillnet, County Tipperary Skillnet and Carlow Kilkenny Skillnet. In the Midwest, Shannon Chamber Skillnet celebrated the graduation of participants of its Diploma in High Performance Leadership, the first of its kind at NFQ Level 8.
Skillnets offers significant benefits to businesses from all sectors in the economy through the sharing of business experience and advice via networking opportunities afforded by membership of a Skillnet. A recent illustration was the Innovation and Lean Sigma Skillnet’s Shingo Institute tour, showcasing Ireland’s world-class performance in the field of operational excellence.
I am delighted to share these stories in this summer edition of Skillnets News, reflecting just some of the many exciting initiatives underway in our networks. I look forward to sharing more developments with you again shortly.