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WICKLOW companies are taking up opportunities for training and up-skilling of staff to meet business needs.
Figures from the Annual Report of Skillnets, the national agency responsible for funding and supporting over 60 learning networks nationwide, reveal that the number of businesses accessing subsidised training in Wicklow grew by seven per cent, with over 245 businesses investing in their staff across a range of sectors.
Across Ireland, over 14,000 businesses are investing in their staff. Ninety-two percent of the member companies that benefited from investment in training through Skillnets in 2016 were SMEs.
‘The development and retention of skilled talent is critical to the competitiveness and growth of the Irish economy and to the firms that underpin it,’ according to Skillnets Chairman Brendan McGinty.
‘2016 was a positive year for Skillnets, €25.9m was invested in learning and development through Skillnets networks with member companies committing €12.8m, and a co-investment from Skillnets of a further €13.1m. A growing demand for the Skillnets offering was evident with over 50,000 trainees participating across all of our programmes. A greater investment in the up-skilling of our enterprise leaders and employees will be a central component of our response to the challenges within our economy, including Brexit.’
The Annual Report also points to some of the key challenges facing Irish industry in the year ahead. One of the aims of Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025 is to promote the benefits of lifelong learning among individuals, the self-employed and employers.
Skillnets Chief Executive, Paul Healy highlighted the importance of lifelong learning across all sectors.
‘Embedding a culture of lifelong learning within SMEs in Ireland remains a considerable challenge that will require a deep and sustained effort. The SME sector represents over 200,000 enterprises employing 1.3 million people. To enable competitiveness and growth, employers need to engage more deeply in workforce development,’ he said.