€400,000 training initiative launched by space industry

ASAR image of Ireland
3 March 2006

The Space Industry Skillnet, a new network training initiative funded by Skillnets Ltd and Irish companies involved in the delivery of technology and services to the European Space Agency (ESA), commenced this week.

Leo Enright, Broadcaster and Chairman of the Discover Science & Engineering Programme, launched the event at the Midlands Innovation & Research Centre in Athlone, Ireland.

Skillnets Ltd, the state sponsored body dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of enterprise-led training networks, has approved €280,000 in funding to the newly formed Space Industry Skillnet in support of its training programme for 2006- 2007. Additional funding of €120,000 comes from the 30 member companies of the Space Industry Skillnet bringing the total fund to €400,000.

The focus of the Space Industry Skillnet is to encourage and enable more Irish companies to consider the space industry as a truly commercial opportunity and to provide them with the skills to do so.

Speaking at the launch, Daniel Gleeson, Space Industry Skillnet Network Promoter, commented, “The Space Industry Skillnet is encouraging more Irish companies to participate in and benefit from the ESA programmes. The Irish financial contribution to ESA has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, and it is one of the few government investments that provide a positive return to the tax payer. The income to the government from the commercialisation of spin-off technology and services from Irish companies participating in ESA programmes has been at least twice that invested each year.”

The Space Industry Skillnet also aims to benefit Irish companies who would never have thought of operating in the space industry and to show how they cannot only make a success of it in a unique and exciting industry, but also use that knowledge and technology to spin off into wider ground based applications. This approach has been the true success story of the Irish industrial presence in European Space Agency programmes.

The Space Industry Skillnet comprises a network of companies across Ireland from a wide range of industry technology sectors, including materials, software, healthcare, telecoms, electronics, photonics, optics and mechanical engineering. These companies have come together with the support of Skillnets to address common training needs. The ‘Skillnet’ system is unique in that it brings different companies together for training purposes, much to the overall benefit of the sector.

Speaking at the launch, Catherine Lenehan, Space Industry Skillnet Network Manager commented, “The space industry requires a special set of skills and knowledge that is not easily available for a country like Ireland where the numbers of companies working in the industry would be relatively small. The Space Industry Skillnet will have the critical mass and credibility to bring world class training from ESA and other providers to Ireland and directly to the companies who need it.”

The 30 participating companies within the Space Industry Skillnet have all contributed to the overall funding of the €400,000 initiative. It predicts it will train over 300 employees over the next two years. The common training theme for the Space Industry Skillnet is the development of skills required to supply ESA (European Space Agency) with technology and services at the highest level possible and participate in international collaborations

Alan Nuzum, Acting CEO of Skillnets Ltd, added, “By coming together and forming a training network or a ‘Skillnet’, companies work together to devise the most suitable training programmes for their collective needs. By joining forces, the members of the Space Industry Skillnet increase their buying power, reduce training costs, and subsequently access forms of training that might otherwise have been too expensive or specialist for one company to access. Of the 54 Skillnet training networks we are funding in 2006/2007, all realise the long term importance of enterprise-led initiatives in the area of employee training and upskilling and the business advantages it will ultimately accrue.”

Skillnets is funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and has a total fund of €55 million to spend on industry training initiatives between 2005 -2010. In 2006/2007 Skillnets Ltd will provide a total of €16 million in funding to 54 Skillnet training networks across the country.

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