In a separate development, the Government is to make funding available to help improve management training skills for small and medium enterprises. Minister Batt O’Keeffe is to provide €1.4 million over the next 12 months for a nationwide pilot programme. If successful the project will be expanded. O’Keeffe says he became concerned after reading a comparative study of management skills which showed that Irish companies were lagging behind their counterparts in other European and OECD countries.
“Ireland was ranked 10th out of 14 in management training, trailing the US and also firms in Northern Ireland,” he told the Irish Times. Forfas research for the Management Development Council in March also identified areas for improvement in management practice in SMEs. “These skills are vital,” O’Keeffe said. “If we provide funding to improve management capabilities in this sector then many more firms will survive. Employment will increase and SME profits will be boosted.”
He said there was a lack of appreciation of the concept of management development in Ireland. The Minister said he would pilot a scheme whereby there would be seven development networks across the country. The networks – two in Dublin and one each in the west, southwest, midlands, northwest and southwest – will be developed by Skillnets, one of the Government’s enterprise and training support bodies.

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