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Skillnet Ireland has, today, published its 2021 results, reporting an increase in its supports to Irish businesses and an investment of €60 million in upskilling programmes for companies and their workforces.

The 2021 Annual Report shows a record number of businesses engaging in talent development through Skillnet Ireland, at 22,500. Of the businesses supported, 93% were SMEs, while the agency supported more than 1,100 FDI firms. The year also saw a 5% increase in the number of people participating on upskilling programmes through Skillnet Ireland, with 86,500 participants in 2021.

Most notable, was the record level of investment in talent development achieved in 2021, growing by 17% to more than €60 million. Contributions from businesses represented €22.5 million or 37% of total investment.

Skillnet Ireland saw a growing appetite from businesses in tackling strategic skills challenges such as digitalisation, leadership development and sustainability. The agency increased the output of training programmes by 8%, delivering 9,853 programmes spanning industry and professional certified courses, specialised upskilling, new industry and academia collaborations, and many innovation and research-based projects.

Growth in Skillnet Ireland’s national initiatives was also robust. Climate Ready, which focuses on supporting businesses in understanding and preparing for climate action, supporting more than 1,600 businesses and 3,200 people in its inaugural year. MentorsWork which supports small business owners through expert mentoring and skills development, grew by 35% in 2021.

Launching the annual report Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris said: “Skillnet Ireland’s results demonstrate a growing appetite for talent development and upskilling from businesses of all sizes in Ireland. In 2021, Skillnet Ireland played a critical role in providing upskilling programmes to 86,000 workers in areas that will be vital to ensure our economic success into the future, including digitalisation, green skills and boosting SME productivity. The government is committed to ensuring that we have the right skills to thrive and grow and Skillnet Ireland is a key part of that.”

Brendan McGinty, Chair, Skillnet Ireland, added: “2021 was another excellent year for Skillnet Ireland amidst a climate of change and challenge. We are pleased to have been able to increase our support to businesses and workers, both in helping them navigate the immediate challenges a second year of the pandemic brought about and in preparing them for the future with initiatives focused on boosting the digital agenda, the SME sector, and climate action. We have also increased our focus on nurturing talent for FDI firms, which is vital in attracting and retaining investment in Ireland.”

Paul Healy, Chief Executive, Skillnet Ireland said: “In 2021, Skillnet Ireland supported a record number of businesses – more than 22,500. Our investment in talent development was also significant, growing by more than 17% to €60.2 million – 37% of which was invested by companies, demonstrating real belief from the business community in the value and impact of skills development. Talent has and will continue to play a fundamental role in Ireland’s economic development, and our goal is to increase the number of businesses supported by Skillnet Ireland to 30,000 annually by 2025.”

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