ICT Skillnet Ireland is a national agency supporting businesses in Ireland to address their skill needs by promoting and facilitating enterprise training and workforce learning, especially in the context of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It also targets jobseekers and employees looking to upskill or reskill, through capacity-building initiatives and resources, with the aim of driving further employment. Nationwide Learning Networks (groups of companies within the same industry sector or region) coordinate the training and assist SMEs in identifying their skill needs. The Learning Networks receive funding from Skillnet to subsidise the training of companies. Technology Ireland represents the Learning Network for the provision of information and communication technology (ICT) skills.
The training programmes listed are partly free or paid, intensive short-term (upskilling) courses to MSc (Masters level) programmes. Skills pathways offered include:
- IT Technical Support Specialist
- IT Networking Specialist
- Cloud Practitioner – Entry Level
- Digital Marketing Professional
- Cybersecurity Analyst
- Software Developer
- Web Developer
- Data Analytics Expert
Unemployed learners receive free courses and can participate in conversion programmes, including a certificate in emerging technologies (12 week full-time) and software engineering (9 week full-time). Work placements within ICT companies are also offered.
In March 2021 ICT Skillnet Ireland launched Future in Tech, an initiative comprising of 8 tech skills programmes to help job seekers with no technological or digital background to understand and develop the digital skills they need to access a rapidly changing job market. To be eligible to take part in the programme, candidates must be at least 18 years old and be unemployed.
Since its launch, the initiative has been successful in ameliorating the national landscape when it comes to digital skills, jobs and employment for the labour force and citizens alike. So far, more than 15,000 companies have participated, and more than 50,000 trainees have graduated from the various upskilling opportunities offered. The initiative has also made a positive impact on business processes on a national level, currently representing Ireland’s most influential business organisation in the technological sector. ICT Skillnet Ireland also launched Ireland’s first masters-level higher education programme in Artificial Intelligence (2018) and has continued expanding and developing its network through distance and blended learning opportunities, industry-led programmes, engagement of stakeholders, and continuous commitment to funding. The qualification courses produced by ICT Skillnet have also proven successful in leading towards a qualification recognised by employers and have contributed to increasing employability on a national level, evidenced by high employment progression rates.