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Skillnet Ireland supporting businesses to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world

By Business & Finance
27 May 2024
Pictured: Mark Jordan, Skillnet Ireland Chief Strategy Officer

Never before has upskilling in digitalisation and specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI) been as crucial for businesses.

By Mark Jordan, Skillnet Ireland Chief Strategy Officer

In this era of the fourth industrial revolution technological advancements are reshaping industries at an unprecedented pace. Over the last 80 years we have arrived in the future, in which people can speak into their wristwatches and everyone is walking around with a tiny computer in their pocket. Never before has upskilling in digitalisation and specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI) been as crucial for businesses.

The transformative potential of AI is such that businesses that fail to help their staff to adapt, risk falling behind in an increasingly competitive landscape. Recognising the challenges facing enterprise, Skillnet Ireland has taken significant steps to support Irish businesses in upskilling their workforce in AI and digital skills.

Skillnet Business Networks deliver digital skills programmes to over 13,000 individuals annually, with a dual focus on the creation of specialised talent for new or emerging technologies, and in enabling digital transformation within the SME sector.

Specialist technology-based Skillnet Business Networks provide upskilling solutions to support the growth and competitiveness of ICT enterprises through cutting edge and highly specialised education and training. Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet offers Masters programmes in AI, including the National MSc in Artificial Intelligence offered in partnership with the University of Limerick, Ireland’s first masters dedicated to AI. The Masters programme in Leadership, Innovation & Technology designed by Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) has been delivering essential skills to industry for over a decade, while a pioneering new Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Analytics, Technology and Innovation from the Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet and TU Dublin was launched recently.

Mark Jordan, Skillnet Ireland Chief Strategy Officer, encouraged all businesses who require support with their digitalisation upskilling needs to contact the relevant Skillnet Business Network in their sector or region.

“Artificial intelligence is not just a buzzword, from streamlining operations to enhancing customer experiences, AI has myriad applications across various industries. In Ireland, businesses are increasingly turning to AI to gain a competitive edge, improve efficiency, and drive innovation. However, to fully harness the power of AI, businesses need employees with the necessary skills and expertise,” Mr Jordan said.

“Recognising the skills gaps that exists, Skillnet Ireland has developed a range of initiatives to support Irish businesses in this area. By investing in upskilling with one of our Skillnet Business Networks or national talent initiatives, companies can develop a pipeline of talent and ensure they have the skilled workforce needed to thrive in the digital age.”

Skillnet Ireland commissioned a survey of 500 business leaders across Ireland, to assess the skills, talent and workforce development needs of their business and industry. The survey found that a quarter of Irish businesses recognise AI as a key growth area in the coming years.

For SMEs, essential skills such as Microsoft Office (68%) continue to be important, while larger enterprises express a greater demand for support in emerging fields such as Artificial Intelligence (42%) and big data analysis (45%). Over 50% of SMEs report experiencing difficulties in recruiting staff with the necessary skillset. Cyber security, financial management, and marketing and sales were identified as the much-needed skills for SME business growth. Large businesses are also encountering persistent challenges when it comes to seeking out new talent, with one-third (31%) struggling to hire employees with the appropriate skillsets.

Through our 70 Skillnet Business Networks, and national initiatives – including Skillnet Climate Ready Academy, Skillnet Innovation Exchange and MentorsWork – covering each industry sector and region in Ireland, Skillnet Ireland puts enterprise in control of the process. Each year, Skillnet Ireland delivers upskilling supports to some 25,000 businesses and 90,000 individuals.