Skillnet Ireland, a Government business support agency has welcomed the Minister for Finance’s decision to increase its funding allocation by 15% in Budget 2021.
The agency has received total funding for 2021 of €41 million in the 2021 Budget through the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. Skillnet Ireland operates on a cost sharing basis with industry; the total investment in upskilling by Skillnet Ireland in 2021 is likely to exceed €60 million when employer contributions are added.
Aside from the impact of Covid-19, businesses face a number of potentially disruptive challenges in 2021 and beyond, including Brexit, accelerated digitisation and rapid changes in the world of work driven by increased automation. Skillnet Ireland’s focus for 2021 will include addressing the technology skills-gaps within organisations, boosting productivity particularly for the SME sector, and supporting Ireland’s transition to a low carbon economy.
Commenting on the increased funding Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD said: “A key function of my Department is to drive innovation within Ireland’s businesses through developing an agile and highly skilled workforce. Skillnet Ireland has long-standing experience in working with industry to identify business needs and skills development opportunities. We saw this year how the agency responded quickly and effectively to the challenges faced by businesses in responding to Covid-19 through a range of support initiatives. Funding to Skillnet Ireland in 2021 includes support for a new climate action upskilling scheme that will support Ireland’s transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy.”
Skillnet Ireland works in partnership with 57 industry bodies and enterprise clusters, providing supports to over 18,000 businesses, and upskilling 70,000 workers throughout the country every year.
Skillnet Ireland will launch a number of new initiatives in 2021 in digital transformation and addressing the implications of climate change for business and workers. Designed in collaboration with key industry bodies, these programmes will be delivered through a mix of online classrooms and mobile technology.
Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive, Paul Healy said: “Enabling businesses in Ireland to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptive effect of Brexit is key. It is critically important that the workforce have access to resources they need, in order to develop the in-demand skills necessary to compete in the post-COVID digital economy. There has never been a more important time for businesses to invest in their workforce. We welcome today’s announcement from Government of increased funding which will enable Skillnet Ireland to further advance our work on these priorities.”