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Tánaiste and Minister Harris Launch Skills for Better Business – a new resource SMEs

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, today launched Skills for Better Business, a two-part initiative aimed at assisting SME owners and managers across Ireland. 


Skills for Better Business comprises an Online Tool for management skills assessment, complemented by a sign-posting resource providing quick contact information for management education and training.


On foot of recommendations by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs in its 2020 management skills report, Leading the Way, a consortium of 14 partners from public and private sectors have worked together to develop the resources and content for the project.


Commenting on the launch of the online tool, the Tánaiste said:


“This Online Assessment will make it easier for busy small business owners and managers to assess their own management and leadership skills. It can make a real difference to small businesses; top class management skills make for top class businesses. The extensive Courses and Contacts resource will make it easy for them to find the training and education available to develop those skills. Research has shown that firms that invest in management development grow faster, survive longer and innovate more effectively. I would encourage any SME owner or manager to take the Online Assessment and then reach out to the contacts for specific advice and guidance.”


Minister Harris said:


“Ireland’s ambition for our people is encapsulated in the fact that we have a Department for Skills and Talent.  The launch of this resource aligns with Ireland’s skills agenda  - to build on the strengths we have; to ensure our continued competitiveness by ensuring our people continue to be our best asset; to leverage the opportunities of digital transformation and climate adaptation and mitigation; and to ensure that Ireland boldly and bravely embraces a fully transformed 21st century model of continuous learning – and to be just as successful in that as we embrace education through the 20th century. The Skills Strategy has renewed our focus on SMEs and on talent development in enterprises of all sizes, as a driver of workforce engagement, productivity and profit. “


The Online Assessment, developed and project managed for DETE by Skillnet Ireland, in conjunction with the other partner organisations, allows SME owners and managers to assess their own management skills in less than ten minutes by answering a series of questions about their management capabilities. They will then receive a bespoke report outlining their current level of skills and identify critical areas to improve upon. The Courses and Contacts resource allows them then to see at a glance the range of education and training providers, and provider groups, in Ireland, and to make contact immediately with an advisor who can direct them to the training and education they need.


Tony Donohoe, Chair of the EGFSN, said:


“The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs makes recommendations aimed at ensuring that the enterprise sector has the skills it needs for the future. Management Skills are essential across all sectors, and particularly so for SMEs in Ireland. This project makes it easier for SME owners and managers to build the skills they need to run their firms more effectively and reach their business goals. When the owners and managers have world-class management and leadership skills and practices, they can invest in the future growth and success of their business in a more targeted way and survive the ups and downs of the business environment more surely. I recommend these tools to any owner or manager of an SME in Ireland who wants to find the education and training resources that will help them see more clearly what they need to do for their business.”


The Leading the Way report found that the attitude of SME owners and managers to management development is central and recommends that management development must be a top strategic priority for all SMEs in Ireland. SMEs account for almost 70% of total employment in the Irish business economy improving their performance is vital in helping to lift the whole economy. Skills for Better Business makes it easier for busy SME owners and managers to make this strategic priority a reality by continuing their management development journey.



Find Skills for Better Business: Online Assessment here.

Find Skills for Better Business: Courses and Contacts here.


Notes for Editors


Skills for Better Business has been developed by the Implementation Group for the Leading the Way report of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.  14 project partners have participated in its development:


  • The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment
  • Skillnet Ireland
  • The Small Firms Association
  • ISME, the Irish SMEs Association
  • Enterprise Ireland
  • The Local Enterprise Offices
  • The Regional Skills Fora
  • The Higher Education Authority
  • Chambers Ireland
  • The Irish Universities Association
  • The Technological Higher Education Association
  • The Higher Education Colleges Association
  • Education and Training Boards Ireland.


Skillnet Ireland project managed the development and build of the Online Assessment tool, which was funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. 


The data collected by the Online Assessment will be anonymous.  Participants provide their email address in order to receive their skills report, but that address is not stored in the database. Only the answers are stored. This data will be shared with the 14 partners and analysed in order better to understand the management development needs of Irish SME owners and managers and to provide more targeted responses and resources.



About the EGFSN


The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) advises the Irish Government on the current and future skills needs of the economy and on other labour market issues that impact on Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth. It has a central role in ensuring that labour market needs for skilled workers are anticipated and met.


The Enterprise Strategy, Competitiveness and Evaluations Division within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment provides the EGFSN with research and analysis support.