Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe TD has unveiled a €1.4m pilot management training fund for SMEs in a move aimed at boosting productivity by improving workplace skills.
The move comes on foot of Forfás research for the Management Development Council, published in March, which identified areas for improvement in management practice among SMEs.
O’Keeffe said he was initially investing €1.4m to get the pilot fund up and running this year.
“The plan is to develop seven regional management development networks this year – two in Dublin, and one each in the west, south-west, midlands, north-west and south-east.
McKinsey and Company estimates that bringing the poorest performing firms in Ireland up to average levels of management skills could be worth between €500m and €2.5bn in terms of increased gross value added in the manufacturing sector alone.
SMEs, which employ 700,000 workers out a total labour force of 1.9 million and account for some 270,000 Irish businesses, are the bedrock of the domestic economy.
O’Keeffe plans to grant-aid firms that come together to provide training as part of the seven pilot management development regional networks.
SMEs can approach these networks directly to join and access training.
“The pilot initiative is an important test bed for the impact of management training on the performance of firms,” O’Keeffe said.
“Research shows that improving management capability in SMEs through this type of training can lead to significant returns in terms of increased value added, employment, better business survival rates and a more skilled workforce.
“I will be insisting on clear outcome targets for the training and on regular evaluation of the networks’ effectiveness,” said O’Keeffe.