Skillnet helped record number of businesses to upskill workers last year

Total of €60m invested in upskilling in 2021, with €22.5m co-invested by companies

A record number of businesses turned to Skillnet to help develop their workforce, while the number of people participating in its programmes also rose in 2021, a new report from the State agency has shown.

The annual report indicated that despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, companies are still investing in their workforce, with €22.5 million co-invested by companies in upskilling through Skillnet Ireland. That was part of a record investment in talent development of more than €60 million.

“Talent has and will continue to play a fundamental role in Ireland’s economic development, and our goal is to increase the number of businesses supported by Skillnet Ireland to 30,000 annually by 2025,” said Skillnet chief executive Paul Healy.

More than 22,500 companies availed of the agency’s services last year, with 93 per cent classed as small and medium sized enterprises, and a total of 86,500 participants recorded in 2021, a 5 per cent rise year on year. Some 1,100 businesses were classed as FDI.


The agency noted a growing demand for skills challenges such as digitalisation, leadership development and sustainability. Almost 10,000 programmes spanning industry and professional certified courses, specialised upskilling, new industry and academia collaborations, and innovation and research-based projects were delivered over the year.

“Skillnet Ireland’s results demonstrate a growing appetite for talent development and upskilling from businesses of all sizes in Ireland. In 2021, Skillnet Ireland played a critical role in providing upskilling programmes to 86,000 workers in areas that will be vital to ensure our economic success into the future, including digitalisation, green skills and boosting SME productivity,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris. “The Government is committed to ensuring that we have the right skills to thrive and grow and Skillnet Ireland is a key part of that.”

Skillnet’s five-year strategy, unveiled in 2020, targets increased engagement with business and industry, providing supports for up to 100,000 workers a year by 2025 and doubling investment to €100 million.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist