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Skillnet Ireland had great success at the recent 2021 Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) National Training Awards winning two awards. Skillnet Ireland was awarded the Best Mentoring or Coaching Initiative recognising the MentorsWork programme. Our Skillnet Business Networks also had considerable success at this year’s awards. Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet won Best Organisational Development for their Transform programme and Green Tech Skillnet were finalists  in the Best Talent Development Initiative category.   


MentorsWork is joint initiative from Skillnet Ireland and the Small Firms Association (SFA) which connects SME owners and managers throughout Ireland with experienced mentors, to address specific business issues on a one-to-one basis. This unique virtual mentoring programme was designed as ‘bootcamp mentoring’ specifically to tackle ‘right now’ issues companies faced as a result of COVID-19, as well as supporting them with long-term planning.  

An eight-week business support programme, MentorsWork was designed to provide the skills and supports business owners and managers need to sustain and improve their business. In addition to its central purpose of connecting participants with a personal mentor from within their industry, MentorsWork offers integrated learning supports across key pillars, a detailed Competency Assessment tool, access to specialist masterclasses and a bespoke online learning platform. Participants are also supported in developing a six-month Strategic Business Improvement Plan tailored to their business. Free of charge for eligible businesses, MentorsWork is a valuable tool aiming to boost the overall productivity and prosperity among Irish SMEs.  

During 2020, MentorsWork connected over 450 business owners and managers from 423 SMEs throughout Ireland with dedicated expert business mentors and with additional funding secured for 2021 a further 600 SME owner/managers will be involved in the initiative this year. This innovative programme has been expanded from its core provision of mentoring with additional supports providing creative solutions to common SME problems. Networking with likeminded business owners has also been of huge benefit, and an offering for programme alumni is in development for this year as MentorsWork continues to evolve. With 96% of participants reporting that the mentoring provided was invaluable, the now 12-week programme has continued to expand its offering and support more SMEs across Ireland.  

Speaking on receipt of the award, Dave Flynn, Skillnet Ireland Executive Director, Workforce Agility and Innovation said: “MentorsWork epitomises Skillnet Ireland’s core belief in the power of people, and the positive capabilities of knowledge-sharing to promote upskilling and resourcing in business. We are pleased to receive this award from IITD, who share our belief in the importance of mentoring in a business environment. The level of demand for MentorsWork has proven the willingness among Irish SMEs to increase their capacity and strengthen their offering as they build back following the challenges of operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director of the SFA said: “We are delighted that MentorsWork has been recognised at the IITD National Training Awards. Designed in consultation with Irish businesses to meet the needs of SMEs at a challenging time, MentorsWork has gone above and beyond those initial challenges, maintaining its vital support to Irish SMEs with a variety of measures and approaches. The extensive experience of our mentors has been invaluable to MentorsWork participants, and we look forward to seeing these relationships go from strength to strength.” 


The Transform programme saw Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet and Dell Technologies win the Best Organisational Development award, recognising excellence in empowering organisations to guide their teams towards innovative solutions around digital transformation. 

Una Fitzpatrick, Director, Technology Ireland said: “Delivering digital transformation through organisational change, strategy, technology and innovation is one of the great challenges of the future. The Transform partnership brings together the sector, key agencies and future-oriented companies to build essential capabilities.” 

Ireland’s first educationally accredited programme in digital transformation, Transform enabled its 900-strong alumni to use their qualifications to develop more than 190 innovation projects within their organisations. The programme’s success has also resulted in Dell deciding to roll out the programme globally, with more than 30,000 staff expected to benefit. Other companies undertaking the programme find it helps foster a culture of innovation in their organisations. 

Learn more 

For more information on MentorsWork or to complete a trial Competency Assessment, visit our website by clicking here. To learn more about the Transform programme or Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet visit the website to find out the latest updates.  

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