Employment Minister vows to ‘up-skill’ local workers

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Organisers of the 'Up-Skilling the Mid-West' event (Front row l-r): Gerard Murray, ulearning Skillnet; Dermot O’Neill, Irish Centre for Business Excellence; Paul Healy, CEO Skillnets; Linda Barron, Aviation Finance Finuas & Aviation Aerospace Networks; Sue Davies, ulearning Skillnet. Back row l-r: Cillian Griffey, Shannon Chamber Skillnet; Anne Morris, Limerick Chamber Skillnet; Grainne Walsh, Business Excellence Skillnet; Pauline Flanagan, Irish Medtech Association Skillnet and Brian O’Shaughnessy, Skillnets. Photo: Shauna Kennedy
Organisers of the ‘Up-Skilling the Mid-West’ event 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a core element of our economy and it is vital that they have the skills to scale their businesses and realise their full potential. This was the key message delivered by Pat Breen T.D., Minister for Employment and Small Business at the launch of Up-Skilling the Mid-West.

The event, held in Limerick and organised by the nine Skillnet training networks operating throughout the region, showcased the many subsidised training options available to SMEs (and multinationals), through Skillnets.

Opening the event, Minister Breen said that maintaining a well-skilled workforce has been a key pillar of economic development and investment in Ireland for many years.

“In recent years, SMEs have accounted for over 85% of the 13,000 plus companies funded annually by Skillnets. In 2016, the nine Skillnets networks based in the Mid-West had a budget of over €2.2m to support businesses in the region, including over €1m grant invested by Skillnets. This significant investment resulted in over 30,000 training days being delivered in 2016 to over 4,500 employed and unemployed trainees,” the Minister stated.

Skillnets CEO Paul Healy responding to the Minister added: “Skillnets plays an important role in regional skills development by facilitating dialogue between employers, and education and training providers at local level, to meet enterprise needs. The Up Skilling the Mid-Westevent is part of a broader awareness building campaign we are undertaking with employers nationally and we are very pleased that Minister Breen could join us.”

Shannon-based Atlantic Aviation Group’s CEO Connor Flanagan said while his company excels at finding and fixing problems, thanks to its experience and in-house technical expertise, it is poor at understanding the commercial impact of its technical delivery.

“Having looked at where training and up-skilling would have the greatest impact within the company, not just at management level but also for crew-leads and project-leads, we found that Shannon Chamber Skillnet gave us access to the training we needed for all levels within our organisation.”