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People working in a SME

There are over 200,000 SMEs in Ireland, ranging from owner-managed businesses in traditional sectors, to high-growth and technology start-ups, all of which ultimately account for approximately half of all employment in the country. 

At Skillnet Ireland, we work directly with businesses and partners across sectors and regions, to deliver workforce development and talent solutions that meet the needs of the Irish SME community. By placing firms at the heart of the process, we are well-positioned to not only identify the challenges facing businesses in Ireland but also understand the role of talent in addressing those challenges. 


The challenges facing SMEs – and how to overcome them 

All SMEs, locally and globally, are adapting to a new, digital-first environment to varying degrees. The challenge of maintaining a customer-focused approach, whilst developing transformational and digital strategies, building business resilience plans, and collaborating with other businesses and domain experts, requires SMEs to examine the skills they have - and the talent they need.  

From our engagement with industry, we know that SMEs put customers first – and they are constantly improving the way they engage with their clients, whilst assessing growth and developing market strategies that span across products and areas.  

Skillnet Ireland works with businesses to help them diagnose and assess their digital maturity, so they can determine exactly where they are in their digitisation journey and align skills needs to company objectives. By hardwiring innovation and digital transformation into the organisation’s DNA and culture, companies can address both the technical and transversal skills opportunities in front of them and tackle existing challenges (such as the need to determine a strategic approach to innovation, developing employees’ technical and soft skills, ensuring effective implementation, etc).  

This approach is also in line with reaching the targets put forward in the European Commission’s Digital Decade – to have 20 million ICT specialists employed in Europe by 2030.  

The successful digital transformation of a company, however, goes beyond offering training courses and on-the-job upskilling. By reviewing the skills that exist within the organisation and focusing on developing frameworks that are both intertwined with the overall objectives of the business and aligned to the different business functions, companies can build toward a stage where a long-term investment will yield growth, prosperity, and success.


How the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform can support businesses 

While our approach to engaging with SMEs is tried and tested, the challenge of getting them to actively participate in the skills agenda is critical to our future economic growth.  

At Skillnet Ireland, we welcome the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform – and the key role it will play as an open and accessible network for businesses to join. 

"The challenges facing Irish businesses are not unique to Ireland – right across Europe we are seeing similar trends in terms of the acceleration of digitalisation and the impact of disruptive technologies on the business landscape. The ability to leverage best practices from other jurisdictions through the platform is an opportunity that could pay dividends in terms of the application of techniques that have a meaningful impact for businesses and their people, right across Europe." 

We know that the ‘winning’ companies will be those who effectively embrace the concept of bringing innovative thinking and technical solutions to all aspects of business, and ensure the workforce remains competitive and at the leading edge. 

Skillnet Ireland will continue to provide support to the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform along with the work we do in developing other innovative solutions to help business address the digital skills gap. 

We are all working towards - and share the common goal of – helping our businesses be global leaders in innovation, technological adoption, and the digital transformation.

We are ambitious for Europe, and we are ambitious for European businesses. 


About Skillnet Ireland 

Skillnet Ireland is a business support agency of the Government of Ireland, responsible for advancing the competitiveness, productivity and innovation of Irish businesses through enterprise-led workforce development.  

About Mark Jordan 

Mark is the Chief Technologist at Skillnet Ireland. He is an experienced and innovative leader possessing expertise in technology deployment, operational management, system transformation and regulatory compliance. At Skillnet Ireland, Mark is leading the technology skills strategy and agenda. 


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Opinions details

Digital technology / specialisation
Digital skill level
Geographic scope - Country
Type of initiative
National initiative