Minister for Education and Skills Launches Shannon Chamber Skillnet

The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan T.D., today (Friday, 9 October 2015) launched Shannon Chamber Skillnet, a new training network for the Shannon area, which is funded by member companies and the Training Networks Programme, an initiative of Skillnets, funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education.


Shannon Chamber Skillnet has been set up in response to a demand from many long-established companies in Shannon for new areas of training and for a training network that would be member-driven.


The new Skillnet, which currently has 60 member companies – set to increase to 75 by year end – will deliver 722 training days to 358 trainees, five per cent of which will be unemployed, by September 2016. Training will be cross-sectoral, demand-led and tailored to members’ specific needs, ensuring that member companies are equipped with leading edge knowledge & techniques. Training programme content will enhance Shannon’s capability as a multi-sector centre of excellence and facilitate intra-company and intra-sectoral networking for collective gain.


The Shannon Chamber Skillnet will be led by a steering group , which comprises: Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber; Liam Kirby, Operations Training Co-Ordinator, Genworth Financial; Marie Clifford, MD, Advanced Technical Concepts; Vicky Howard, HR Manager, Reagecon; Edmund Jennings, MD, The Cregg Group ; Aidan McMahon, MD, Gentian Services Ltd; Vivian Farrell, Business Strategy & Marketing Manager, Modular Automation; David Brown, Finance Manager, Idex Pump Technologies; Elaine Hartigan, HR Manger, PTG Hi-Life Tools; and Michelle Quaid, Senior HR Business Partner, Operations, Element Six Group . Shannon Chamber’s Cillian Griffey has been appointed Network Manager.


Speaking at the launch, which was held in Genworth Financial, Shannon, and attended by Shannon Chamber Skillnet board, steering committee and member companies, Minister O’Sullivan referred to the Departments’ Statement of Strategy 2015 – 2017, which emphasises the need for ‘learning for life, improving quality and accountability, supporting inclusion and diversity and, building the right systems and infrastructure’.


“The new Shannon Chamber Skillnet, through catering for the needs of a mix of sectors, reflective of Chamber membership, and through including training for the unemployed in its training schedule, will greatly enhance the operational capacity of its membership through delivering training at many levels – shop floor, operational and executive. It is perfectly framed to build the capacity of the local workforce and promote sustainable job creation, the Minister said.”

Skillnets, which was established in 1999 and is funded from the National Training Fund (NTF) through the Department of Education and Skills  actively supports and works with businesses in Ireland to address their current and future skills needs.

Skillnets’ CEO Alan Nuzam, speaking in Shannon said: “I’m delighted to welcome the Shannon Chamber Skillnet on board as one of Skillnets’ 11 new networks this year. The Shannon region is an area of huge potential with both established and start-up enterprise providing sustainable employment opportunities and stimulating economic growth in the Mid-West. Using our model of enterprise-led training, the Shannon Chamber Skillnet will enable the creation and development of training programmes that are completely relevant to industry needs in the region. Businesses will be given the opportunity to access high-quality, specific training at an affordable price.”

Steering Committee member Liam Kirby, Operations Training Co-Ordinator with Genworth Financial, added: “We’re delighted to host the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, T.D., today and support the new training network created by Shannon Chamber, leveraging Skillnet’s support. Training and development is vital to any business. Financial services is a knowledge and technically driven industry, so it’s vital for a company like Genworth that our teams are constantly developed and up-skilled in order to compete in the global market in which we operate. This training network will give Genworth and other companies in the region, the means to address the future skill needs of our people.”


Commenting on attaining this new Skillnet for Shannon, Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “Shannon Chamber has been independently delivering training programmes as part of its annual events’ schedule since 2012. This training has, in the main, responded to specific demand from members, and involved both hard and soft skills. We have had many requests from members to increase our activity in this area, and we were delighted that our submission to run a new Skillnet was successful.


“Since being approved in September, we have already run two training programmes, which were both oversubscribed, and our next programme – Interview Skills for the Interviewer – will run on 22 October at the Bunratty Castle Hotel. We have received very favourable feedback and our aims for the year ahead are both ambitious and innovative. In this regard, our flagship programme, which is currently being compiled, will enhance the leadership skills of senior executives in multinationals and small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).”