Vicky Howard, Shannon Chamber Skillnet steering group chair with Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber. Photo: Eamon Ward
Upskilling an imperative to prepare workforces for jobs of the future
Shannon Chamber has successfully applied for and been awarded funding by Skillnet Ireland, the business support agency of the Government of Ireland, to deliver an ambitious suite of training programmes to its member companies over the next three years (2020 – 2022). With funding heretofore allocated on a yearly basis, this new three-year cycle will give Shannon Chamber and its Skillnet network the ability to plan for a longer horizon while also encouraging companies to think about the types of skills they may need to acquire over the three-year period.
The funding has been provided under the Training Networks Programme, which will enable Shannon Chamber, through its Skillnet network, to develop workforce skills and talent in Shannon and the wider Mid-West region and to develop new programmes to meet emerging skill areas.
Funding is also being provided to Shannon Chamber, via Skillnet Ireland’s Employment Activation programme, to provide innovative upskilling and work placement supports to those seeking employment.
Commenting on the funding approval, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “Having operated a Skillnet network since 2015, we have seen first-hand the impact training can have on a company, both for retaining and attracting talent. Six-hundred and thirty (630) executives in 140 member companies participated in 48 training programmes in 2019 alone, which brought the total number of programmes we have delivered in the past four years to 181 involving 2,132 executive trainees.
“The value of this training is best summed up by the participants themselves, who have stated that the on-course collaborative aspect of the training, delivered to participants from a cross-sectoral spread, has generated new collaborations, sharing of best practice, local engagement and networking that would not otherwise have occurred,” added Ms Downes.
Shannon Chamber Skillnet is managed by a steering group, comprising executives from Reagecon, Pepper Finance Corporation Ireland, AXA Partners, CREGG Group, Lufthansa Technik Turbine Shannon, Gentian Services, Jaguar Land Rover and Shannon Chamber.
Steering Group Chair, Vicky Howard, Operations Director, Regecon, commenting on the network’s plans for the next three years said: “Our focus will be on developing programmes that deliver benefits to the diverse range of sectors that operate from Shannon and the wider region, individually and collectively.
“We would also like to encourage a greater cohort of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to avail of our training programmes. As the OECD draft review (2019) on the Irish small business and entrepreneurship environment pointed out, greater focus needs to be given to developing management capabilities in SMEs with particular focus on tech skills. Shannon Chamber Skillnet training programmes will maintain the appropriate balance between low-skilled, middle-skilled and high-skilled training to support career planning and development in Chamber member companies. It will be a busy but extremely focused three years,” added Ms Howard.
Shannon Chamber 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.