Increased Number of Firms Upskilling Staff to Future-Proof their Business

Jul 10th, 2019

annual report 2018 launch skillnet ireland

Pictured left to right: Brendan McGinty, Skillnet Ireland Chairperson; and Paul Healy, Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive


The number of people participating in training and upskilling programmes through Skillnet Ireland increased in 2018, as the country experienced record employment levels.

According to Skillnet Ireland’s annual report, 56,182 people undertook training in 2018. That’s almost 7,000 more than in 2017, representing a 12% increase in the numbers participating in upskilling and training programmes.

The national agency, responsible for the promotion and facilitation of workforce learning, also reported an increase in the number of companies contacting Skillnet Ireland for support in upskilling their staff.

16,462 companies benefited from Skillnet Ireland supported upskilling programmes in 2018 – that’s 1,450 more than in 2017. 95% of these were SMEs.

Responding to Skillnet Ireland’s 2018 Annual Report, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. said:

“Ireland’s future economic prosperity and the ongoing competitive advantage that we get from our workforce is built on a solid supply of skills and talent across the regions and across industry. We need to maintain a constant focus on this to ensure our workers are equipped with the right skills to meet the needs of our economy.

Skillnet Ireland plays a key strategic role in providing for the needs of our workforce. Its work in 2018 reached more than 56,000 people who took courses and 16,000 companies.

“The work of Skillnet Ireland ensures that Irish enterprise and the workforce have the ability to adapt to new demands of the future skills market and aligns fully with Future Jobs Ireland, the whole-of-Government plan to position our economy to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”


Skillnet Ireland delivered 6,831 training programmes in 2018, 14% more than in 2017. These programmes were designed to meet labour demands and equip the Irish workforce with the skills required for the workplace of today. Brendan McGinty, Chairperson of Skillnet Ireland said:

“Our economy is being rapidly reshaped by technology, automation, globalisation, geopolitical shifts and several other forces. The manifestation of changes affecting the ‘future of work’ are already with us today and are influencing the way companies operate and how work is organised.

“Skillnet Ireland is a powerful example of how the State, enterprise and educational institutes can work together to meet identified challenges and shape the future of workforce development. We are actively developing innovative solutions for enterprise and the challenges they face through workforce planning at a strategic level. We made great progress in 2018 and going forward we will continue to advance our understanding of the future of work and anticipate future skills.”


Skillnet Ireland delivered over €36 million worth of upskilling and training programmes to the Irish workforce in 2018, including diverse programmes such as Ireland’s first Master’s in Artificial Intelligence (AI), a new third-level programme in International Financial Services Law and a national framework to provide upskilling to IT professionals in cybersecurity.

The issue of SME productivity is a growing priority area with several national and international reports expressing concern around productivity levels within our indigenous SME base,” said Paul Healy, Chief Executive of Skillnet Ireland.

“It is widely recognised that the availability of a skilled workforce can positivity influence productivity and enhance the success of SMEs. Encouragingly, 95% of companies who participated in Skillnet Ireland programmes are SMEs.

Skillnet Ireland will continue to engage with more companies to strengthen their productivity and to drive the next phase of our economic development.

The single greatest decision an organisation can make to enhance and future-proof their business is to invest in the upskilling of their teams. Skillnet Ireland’s enterprise-led model offers businesses a great opportunity to avail of high quality, relevant and subsidised upskilling.” he added.


The agency also launched five new learning networks in 2018 to strengthen the skills base of the Irish economy, bringing to 65 the total number of Skillnet Learning networks nationwide.

To read the report in full please click here. 

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