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Factsheet for measure IE-1999-1/2518 – measures in Ireland

Skillnet Ireland

Skillnet Ireland

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 1999
Context Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Matching/networking
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 11 November 2022)

Background information

Skillnet Ireland  supports training across all NACE Rev. 2 economic sectors with a nationwide scope. It provides training for employers (especially small and medium-sized), employees and the unemployed. It brings together scores of sector-specific skills networks and runs four key initiatives: Mentors Works , Climate Ready , Skills Connect , and the Innovation Exchange .

Content of measure

The goal of Skillnet Ireland is to maintain and increase participation by enterprises in relevant learning activity that benefits their competitiveness and the employability of their workforce; to support learning in sectors which are expanding and have viable employment prospects by enabling enterprises to make the most of the available human capital in the workforce in pursuit of a sustainable growth path; to provide meaningful support to unemployed people, that provides opportunities to enhance their chances of gaining employment; and to contribute to the development of national enterprise and labour market activation policies.

The Skillnet training networks, pulled together by the Skillnet Ireland, cover the following functions: 

  • Analysing the training and development needs of member companies and potential trainees.
  • Identifying skills requirements and priorities for action.
  • Assessing the strategic importance of long-term competitiveness of the skills identified.
  • Identifying solutions/delivery mechanisms to meet those needs.
  • Developing training network structures and processes to establish the operation of the training network as a basis for specified training activities.
  • Organising the delivery and implementation of training.
  • Promoting collaboration and cooperative activity.
  • Sharing of knowledge and the exchange of best practice.
  • Monitoring and measuring results.
  • Providing performance indicators and quality standards for training activities engaged in by companies.
  • Reporting on the progress, outcomes and impact of training network activities and processes to Skillnet Ireland.

The four key initiatives are:

  • MentorsWork, a 12-week business support programme that provides targeted supports to help SMEs.
  • Climate Ready, which offers leadership and skills support for enterprises who want to develop their operational and strategic sustainability.
  • Skills Connect, which facilitates the rapid re-skilling of people who want to re-enter the workforce.
  • The Innovation Exchange, which connects large businesses facing innovation challenges with SMEs that fast-track solutions

Skillnet Ireland is partly funded by the Department of Education and Skills through the National Training Fund.

Skillnet Ireland's board includes representatives of the employer bodies Irish Business and Employers Confederation, Construction Industry Federation, Small Firms Association as well as representatives from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Skillnet Ireland case studies include: Eddie Rocket's, CBE, Hill House Farm, and Printcom.

Use of measure

According to an Indecon 2019 independent evaluation of Skillnet Ireland, the support body achieved the following metrics in 2018:

  • It delivered 441,846 training days to 56,182 learners, exceeding the overall annual targets set by the Department of Education and Skills.
  • Surpassed the training days targets for both in-employment (by 26%) and jobseeker training (by 46%) during 2018.
  • Achieved a growth of 9.7% on the number of enterprises supported compared to 2017, and a 28% increase compared to 2015
  • Over 90% of businesses indicated they were very satisfied or satisfied with the design and relevance of Skillnet Ireland training to their business needs.

By forming training networks, SMEs have more leverage and this facilitates training that is more tailored to SMEs, rather than large companies. Pooling resources and forming these networks also brings down the costs for each participant company. Companies are provided with expert staff and advisors which facilitate them in choosing the training that is best for their business.

The 2019 Indecon evaluation concluded that Skillnet Ireland 'is playing an ongoing role in delivering objectives on a number of wider Government strategies and polices, including responding to the skills needs arising from Brexit, and the Future Jobs Ireland, Technology Skills 2022, Ireland for Finance 2025 and Food Wise 2025 frameworks.'

The 2019 evaluation reports that 30% of users found training received at Skillnet Ireland was no different from other training that was available, which indicates 'a degree of deadweight, but not at a level of concern to Indecon for training programmes of this type.' 

The evaluation also recommends more to be done by Skillnet in the area of e-learning, digital skills gap, and useful data collection.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Employers' organisations
Company / Companies
Local / regional government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement Consulted
Form Not applicable Unknown

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only employers' organisations
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


Several companies and employer organisations are classified as industry partners, which means these organisations would consult and assist with the work of Skillnet Ireland, in a variety of ways such as mentoring, site visits etc.

Views and reactions

Given the involvement of many companies and employer bodies it is reasonable to assume they see this initiative as important.



Eurofound (2022), Skillnet Ireland, measure IE-1999-1/2518 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.