Shannon Chamber has been awarded additional funding by Skillnet Ireland to deliver a suite of training programmes to rapidly upskill workers that have been impacted by COVID-19 and to support businesses that are seeking to rebuild for survival, sustainability and success.
Shannon Chamber applied for funding under two streams: the Training Networks Programme (TNP), which is targeted at upskilling employees in all disciplines and, the Employment Activation Programme (EAP), which focuses specifically on supporting workers who have been displaced as well as those who may lose their jobs in the months ahead due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber explains: “This latest round of funding will enable us to help workers in two ways. Training under the TNP steam will be centred on improving existing skills within companies and, or, giving employees a more rounded set of skills to prepare them for times of uncertainty and a potential requirement to blend roles. This training will also focus on strengthening management skills, particularly at middle-management level to ensure that even in times of business downturn, management has the ability to encourage and support their teams and gain a higher set of skills to benefit any required internal restructuring.
“Training under the EAP stream will be offered to people who are currently in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), those who have previously been in receipt of either the PUP or the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), people currently unemployed or people who become unemployed as a result of COVID-19, including welfare recipients, and people who are not in employment and not in receipt of welfare payments, including women returners,” added Ms Downes.
Prior to applying for this funding, Shannon Chamber consulted with its members companies, including its Human Resource (HR) Forum, to ascertain the types of training that would most benefit people in all instances. As a result, the following types of training will be provided.
“Training delivered under the TNP programme will focus on embedding a greater knowledge of selected computer applications, improving project management ability, and refreshing and honing presentation styles for the new online communication environment. It will also focus on encouraging those working in human resources to equip themselves with the skills to manage employees and teams within a very dynamic employment environment, particularly in the area of employment law.
“At the EAP level, the focus will be on equipping employees with transferrable skills, particularly computer-related skills, communication skills, sales and customer service, Lean Six Sigma and training to improve leadership and managing skills.
“We have been delivering Skillnet training programmes since 2015 and since the onset of COVID-19, we have placed an enormous emphasis on working with companies to reskill and upskill their employees, even those who are working remotely, to ensure that they have a diverse range of skills to weather the impact COVID-19 may have on their businesses.
“In the past six months we have delivered 50 training programmes to 122 companies, involving 454 participants. The feedback to this training, all of which has been delivered virtually, is that it has helped them at both a corporate and an individual level. Times are changing and upskilling is now an essential element of most human resource strategies,” added Ms Downes.
“We are delighted that our application for this additional funding was successful. We are now calling on people to avail of the training, particularly the EAP funding. Whilst the closure of a company is never welcome, the ability to work with that company to ensure its employees have the requisite skill base to seek and acquire employment elsewhere is a priority undertaking for us as a Chamber
“This was evident with the recent closure of Avara in Shannon, more recently known as EIRCHEM Pharma Services Limited. Following the announcement that Avara would cease operation in 2020, we applied for and secured funding from Skillnet Ireland via the EAP to train and equip Avara employees with new and upgraded skills to enable them seek and acquire employment with an alternative company.
“Prior to applying for EAP funding to support Avara, we ascertained the level of existing skills among the workforce; this enabled us to assess the types of programmes that would most benefit them going forward in their quest for alternative employment.
“This resulted in us delivering training on presentation and communications skills, a certificate in business and executive coaching and six sigma yellow and green belt training to 43 employees over that past six months. Most of this training was delivered virtually and the feedback has been very positive as it has greatly helped the employees to upskill and reskill for other career opportunities.”
The value of this type of training to employees faced with redundancy was endorsed by John Clarke, human resources director, EIRCHEM Pharma Services Limited, who added: “Shannon Chamber Skillnet provided our employees with a range of invaluable upskilling programmes to prepare them for new job opportunities.”
*Shannon Chamber Skillnet was set up in response to a demand for new areas of training and for training that would be member driven. The network is funded by member companies and the training networks programme, an initiative of Skillnet Ireland, funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.