• Minister Harris and Minister English welcome new report ‘Leading the Way’ by Expert Group on Future Skills Needs

    Investing in Management Development for SME Productivity and Growth

    The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, which advises the Government on current and future skills needs of the economy and their impact on Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth, has today published a report on SME Management Skills, entitled Leading the Way.

    The report highlights how essential management skills are to business productivity, resilience and survival. Research has shown firms that invest in management development grow faster, survive longer and innovate more effectively, and improving management skills is seen by the OECD as a key lever in improving Irish SMEs’ productivity performance.

    Minster for Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, and Minister of State of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, TD, both welcomed the publication of the report.

    Commenting on the launch of the report, Minister Harris said:

    “There is already so much going on in this space, with more than 1,100 management training courses available in 2019, training more than 81,000 managers. But large swathes of the SME population do not connect with these resources or take advantage of the opportunities and supports that are already there. I encourage all SME managers to take note and to make management development a priority for 2021. This is not a time to pull back on investment in management training. It is a time for SME managers to renew their commitment to world-class management skills and practices.”

    Minister English added:

    “Investment in management development is a commitment to the future. The challenges facing the business sector right now make world-class management skills even more of an imperative for Irish SMEs. SMEs should make it a priority to identify their management skills needs and plan to fill those gaps. I encourage all SMEs to seek out the supports that are already available - contact your local LEO, Skillnet Ireland or your representative organisation for advice.”

    Tony Donohoe, Chair of the EGFSN said:

    “There is evidence to show that firms that invest in management development grow faster. The EGFSN report ‘Leading the Way’ finds that 88% of firms say that developing management skills is an important strategic priority but 49% don’t have a formal budget to develop management and leadership. This must change: SMEs that engage in formal management skills training in Ireland have better outcomes in terms of productivity, growth, employment and survival.”

    With SMEs accounting for almost 70% of total employment in the Irish business economy improving their performance is vital in helping to lift the whole economy. This report finds 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.


    Find the full report ‘Leading the Way’ at egfsn.ie

    The main findings from the report are:

    (1)        SME owners and managers must cease thinking of management development as merely important and start seeing it as a top strategic priority and an investment in the future of their business.

    (2)        While flexibility is important, given managers’ busy schedules, research routinely finds that formal approaches to both training and strategising yield the biggest benefits: ‘Time = Commitment’.

    (3)        There is already a huge range of management training programmes available in Ireland, many of them partly funded and supported by the State … but only a fraction of Irish SMEs are taking advantage of this. More need to connect and participate.

    The report makes six core recommendations, including the following:

    While there is much that the State can do to make training programmes more accessible, SME managers must actively seek out the supports they need, whether it be from their business representative organisation or their local LEO, for example. Appendix 6 of the report provides a list of available courses, and this can be used as a resource by SMEs.


    An Implementation Group will be set up shortly. The first action will be to communicate the findings of the report to SMEs across the country and include them in the implementation plan in an integrated and active way. A huge range of management training courses is currently available and detailed in this report. SME owners and managers are encouraged to get involved.

    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.

    Contact Expert Group on Future Skills Needs at info@egfsn.ie

    Contact Press Office, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation at press.office@dbei.gov.ie

    Contact Press Office, Department of Education and Skills at press@education.gov.ie








    Find Out More