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Network Profile

Name of Network: Sustainable Enterprise Skillnet (formerly Lean & Green Skillnet)

Number of members: 460 member companies

Sector(s) covered: All sectors of Industry, Finance, Education and Health seeking to drive Sustainability programmes. Large enterprises and SMEs.

Year established: 2015

Please describe what your Skillnet Business Network does and how it came about?

The Sustainable Enterprise Skillnet (formerly Lean & Green Skillnet) was established to help Irish businesses develop the knowledge and skills required to respond to the realities of climate change, the sustainability agenda and to transition to more sustainable business models and practices. Over the years we have helped businesses understand the impact of emerging technologies, and the advantages for businesses that arise by integrating climate mitigation and adaptation into their strategies. We have overseen businesses achieve international standards in water stewardship and become leaders in sustainability excellence through our offering of innovative learning techniques, best in practice methodologies and by using industry insights and world class collaborative research.

Can you outline one important way your Network impacts positively on your sector?

Responding to the sustainability crisis is a competency challenge for most organisations. At the Sustainable Enterprise Skillnet, we help businesses and leadership teams to accelerate the shift from understanding to action. We empower businesses to develop the knowledge and skills required to understand and overcome these challenges as they make the transition to more sustainable operations. Using a range of learning tools, allied with Lean Six Sigma process development tools, and collaborative supports such as Communities of Practice (CoP), businesses can address their individual challenges and develop a sustainability strategy that fits their industry sector, business model and supplier and customer relationships.

What has been the most transformative initiative in your sector in the last year?

In 2023 we launched the Origin Green Academy in collaboration with Origin Green, Bord Bia’s pioneering national food and drink sustainability programme. The Academy supports Irish food, drink, and horticulture businesses to develop industry leading sustainability talent and the emissions reduction skills required to achieve ambitious emissions reductions across the sector, accelerate their sustainability progress, and meet the expectations of global consumers and legislative requirements such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

What new trends do you see emerging within your industry?

The over-arching United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are increasingly emerging as the framework for organisations as they embark upon, or continue, their sustainability initiatives. As a direct follow on, the upcoming CSRD legislation from the EU is bringing sustainability priorities to the forefront for C-level executives, their companies, suppliers and customers. The CSRD marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of sustainable and responsible corporate practices. As the requirements of these frameworks and directives are also focused on supply chains, the scope and impact of CSRD is also significant as it will extend across all sectors of the economy and all sizes of business.

How is your Network using technology to facilitate learning and development programmes?

At Sustainable Enterprise Skillnet, we have been pioneers of blended learning, pre-dating the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic which made the delivery of virtual learning a necessity. We take advantage of modern, flexible tools such as a state-of-the-art Virtual Learning Environment, along with a solid backbone of Operations and Customer Relationship tools.

What skills do you think are most important for a small business owner/manager?

Firstly, small business owners and managers need to become familiar with the language of sustainability, understand what it means to be a sustainable business as well as the risks and opportunities it presents.

The skills of Planning and Change Management are paramount. Many organisations embarking on a sustainability programme can feel intimidated by the challenge. Our experience demonstrates that businesses need to treat the programme with the same rigour as they would other well-established business processes, such as the launch of a new product range or the replacement of information systems. This ensures the programme goals, prerequisites and deliverables becomes manageable.

Finally, when developing skills, think certification. This helps with key employee recruitment and retention, as well as ensuring programmes adhere to best industry and academic practice.

Do you have any advice for a business that is considering joining a Skillnet Business Network?

There really is no downside to joining a Skillnet Business Network. In today’s fast paced economy, developing skills is a crucial factor for most businesses. The range of sectoral and regional Skillnet Business Networks offer unparalleled learning and development opportunities – even before the funding advantages are considered. The secret is in the word “network”: an existing, extensive framework of opportunities to avoid reinventing the wheel, and to share learning in a collaborative environment.

Learn more about Sustainable Enterprise Skillnet 

For the latest news on programmes and events from the Sustainable Enterprise Skillnet, visit their website.

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