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Breakout session 3: Digital training in small businesses

17 Jun 2019
Donegal Digital and DEVISE European project organise a workshop in Letterkenny.
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On the 28th of May Donegal Digital partnership, in cooperation with DEVISE project (funded by Interreg Europe programme), organised a workshop in CoLab (LYIT, Letterkenny), to identify concrete opportunities that can be implemented by companies based in the county.

We organised four breakout sessions to discuss different topics: Process Automation / Factory Automation, Digital marketing, Digital training in small businesses and Test new technologies. In the Digital training in small businesses session, this group, including local SMEs and representatives from LYIT, Wisar Lab, ERNACT and Údarás na Gaeltachta exchanged ideas about how could digital training requirements be solved for small companies. 

About the company needs, attendees agreed some conclusions. Many small businesses do not know what kind of technology is available and/or how it could apply to their business. There is a gap that needs to be addressed in helping identify the types of technology that businesses could get help to access. This is needed to help SMEs unlock their potential. 

Each company is unique as are their digital training needs. But, according to the participants in the workshop, some general needs are:

  • Basic Digital Skills
  • Industry-specific digital skills
  • Software-specific digital skills

Attendees mentioned that training opportunities need to be clustered to reduce time (including travel time) and cost constraints. The existing hubs and other clusters could be created to allow for this. The GTeic hub has had success with bringing training to the companies rather than the other way around.

Regarding constraints, participants mentioned the following ones:

  • Awareness; what is out there, what employees need, what type of training could be used by the company to grow and expand.
  • Availability; what training the companies can get access to and if there are funding supports.
  • Cost; many companies cannot afford to pay for individual training.
  • Time; for small companies, sending employees or business owners to training has a financial and opportunity cost.

In that way, the agreed that it can be difficult, especially for small companies, to find the right courses. It is also difficult to find courses with supporting funding. Furthermore, they thought that online courses are not always as advertised. Cost is also a constraint. And time is a concern. Night-time is often used for digital learning, but for a one-or two-person business, the evenings are often used to work on deadlines and these individuals generally do not have the down time available for learning.

Finally, about pilot project and opportunities, they highlighted the following:

  • Conduct a solid, defined survey of hub businesses personally to identify individual digital training needs and use that information to work with training/education providers to create courses and/or signpost businesses to available training.
  • Cluster digital skills training courses/classes in existing hubs.
  • Intermediary Skills Facilitator to broker between skills/training providers and businesses, creating a forum where the supply of and demand for digital skills training can be shared.
  • Cluster half day training based on Interreg DEVISE European project's survey results.
  • Create collaborative courses that bring start-ups and multinational employees together.
  • Create a promotional programme to showcase the training and funding that is currently available.


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Donegal County Council Enterprise Ireland IDA Ireland Letterkenny Institute of Technology Udaras Pramerica ERNACT Failte Ireland