For our latest Network Insider interview, we caught up with Denise Duggan, Network Manager with XLVets Skillnet.
Name of Network: XLVets Skillnet
Number of members: 1,500 member companies
Sector(s) covered: Veterinary and farming
Year established: 2011
Please describe what your network does?
XLVets Skillnet serves two distinct sectors, veterinary and farming. We deliver training programmes that equip our veterinary members with the latest clinical knowledge and design programmes that are tailored to our member’s specific needs. Our networking events give our members the opportunity to collaborate, share best practice and enable their business to prosper.
XLVets Skillnet launched in 2011, XLVets saw the framework provided by Skillnet Ireland as an opportunity for the veterinary profession to take control of their own training agenda. In the process we discovered that vets are in a unique position to deliver programmes that facilitate behavioural change at farm level too.
Can you outline one key way your network impacted positively on the sector?
XLVets Skillnet purpose is to enable veterinary to move from a service function to a development function. The first impact of this has been to create a significant demand for training within the veterinary sector to augment clinical problem-solving skills with the consultative capability to lead change at the system level. The second impact has been to generate a demand from within the farming sector for veterinary-led training and development services. For example, by introducing our mentoring approach to learning, we work with farm businesses to develop training plans focused on preventative strategies, developing herd health plans with the aim of preventing or at least significantly reducing clinical problems.
What has been the most transformative initiative in your sector in the last year?
We have just launched Agri Academy, our online training portal for farmers. The purpose of the Agri Academy is to promote best practice and encourage the development of good habits on the farm. Four modules have been completed to date, with more to follow this year. Modules are delivered by industry experts. Each module is broken down into easy to watch bite-sized videos which are mobile friendly. We always welcome new members, to access Agri Academy and enrol for free visit our course page on our website.
What new trends do you see emerging within your industry?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is leading to significant changes in veterinary healthcare provision. In farm food production, clinical diagnoses and health risk assessments are being increasingly being generated by algorithms fed by a range of data feeds. This means that the vets now rely less on making diagnoses based on clinical symptoms and instead are more likely to use a range of decision support tools in developing tailored animal health solutions.
What skills do you think are most important for a small business owner/manager?
Small business owners need to wear many hats, but leadership and listening are key skills. The ability to inspire staff so that they can give their best is very important in a tight labour market. Employees are the number one driver of business growth. Recruiting staff is becoming increasingly difficult, so retaining and nurturing the talent already in the business is more important than ever, Skillnet Networks give small businesses the opportunity to do this by delivering quality training programmes customised to their employees’ exact needs.
Do you have any advice for a business that is considering joining a Skillnet Network?
Membership of a Skillnet Network gives businesses access to excellent training and networking opportunities at a much lower cost. Networking events give businesses the opportunity to share best practice too. Networks work directly with businesses to design programmes to suit their exact needs. It’s a no brainer, seek out the right Network for your business and join today.
XL Vets Skillnet is co-funded by Skillnet Ireland and member companies. Skillnet Ireland is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.