Skillnet Ireland has published an independent evaluation report of its work during the period from 2019-2020, which was conducted by Indecon International Economic Consultants. The national talent development agency promotes the competitiveness, productivity, and innovation of Irish businesses through workforce development initiatives developed in partnership with enterprise.
This evaluation is based on extensive stakeholder consultation and surveys completed by 745 businesses. The comprehensive report, available here, provides evidence of the tangible impact made by Skillnet Ireland on businesses, industry sectors and regions across Ireland. The evaluation recommends that Skillnet Ireland supports are expanded further in the coming years to help drive the workforce development agenda in Ireland.
Although facing challenging economic conditions in 2019 and 2020, Skillnet Ireland demonstrated strong growth in response to enterprise demands for talent development. During 2019 and 2020 an investment of close to €100 million was made by Skillnet Ireland in workforce development, including €38.7m in enterprise investment. Skillnet Ireland delivered training and upskilling initiatives to more than 18,000 companies each year.
More than 90% of the firms supported by Skillnet Ireland were small and medium-sized enterprises, and in 2020 alone, Skillnet Ireland bolstered 8.3% of all SMEs in Ireland. Skillnet Ireland also saw increased supports provided to the workforce, moving from supporting 45,615 individuals in 2017 up to 84,577 participants in 2020, representing an average annual increase of 22.8%. The evaluation highlights that this expansion was accomplished while upholding and enhancing programme quality, as well as ensuring cost-effectiveness and competitiveness.
A significant majority (86%) of companies strongly agreed or agreed that Skillnet Ireland’s Business Networks met their talent development needs, while 79% agreed or strongly agreed that the upskilling and training supports assisted managers in addressing the challenges encountered in their sector. Successive evaluations of Skillnet Ireland activities since 2013 have noted that a consistently high proportion of firms believed that they would experience a high level of difficulty in accessing training of a similar quality elsewhere. Nearly 60% of businesses believed that engaging with Skillnet Ireland had positively impacted the quality of their services or products. The evaluation determined that participation in Skillnet Ireland’s programmes in 2019 and 2020 resulted in improved business productivity, enhanced long-term performance, and increased innovation.
Broader Economic Impact
Skillnet Ireland plays a pivotal role in contributing to public policy with respect to workforce development and, through its ‘Transforming Business Through Talent” Strategy 2021-2025, strives to assist the Government of Ireland in addressing challenges such as digitalisation, climate change and SME productivity. The evaluation highlights that Skillnet Ireland’s efforts in 2019 and 2020 were consistent with national policy objectives and that the organization demonstrated agility in responding to business needs. The report additionally highlights that the activities provided by Skillnet Ireland assisted businesses in fulfilling their talent development requirements and addressing specific challenges facing their sector, including those posed by Covid-19 and Brexit.
The report notes that Skillnet Ireland has made numerous contributions in the critical area of digital skills and the future of work. It highlights how Skillnet Ireland provided support for research on digital skills requirements in Ireland, which included skills to allow companies of all sizes embrace the digital transformation challenge.
The report offers valuable recommendations, many of which Skillnet Ireland has made significant progress on over the last two years. These include the further development of strategic partnerships, both domestically and internationally, to further drive industry-led workforce development in Ireland. The report also highlights the importance of investing in management and leadership development and helping companies in navigate the many supports available through Skillnet Business Networks and other Skillnet national upskilling initiatives.
To learn more, read the complete report which can be accessed here.
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