Sector Skills

Sector Skills is a comprehensive national programme, created by The Wheel to improve the skills of people working in charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises in Ireland.

The Sector Skills programme is accessible by any charity, community & voluntary group or social enterprise, regardless of their membership of The Wheel. This programme is part-funded by the National Training Fund through the Department of Education & Skills.

Click on the headings below to learn more about the different initiatives.

For more information on any of these initiatives, please email

One of the overarching issues within the community and voluntary sector and its 180,000+ employees, has long been one of capacity. This concernsthe ability of the sector to continue to fulfil the increasing demands that are placed on it in a changing world of increased regulation and accountability. The effectiveness of the sector is heavily dependent on it having workers, with the right skills to fulfil their responsibilities.

Sector Skills was created by The Wheel in partnership with the National Training Fund to build the capacity and increase the skills of these workers, thus enhancing their employability.  It has been running continuously since 2005 and an average of 4,000 trainees have benefited from one of its initiatives annually since then.

The National Training Fund was established under the National Training Fund Act, 2000, as a dedicated fund to finance a range of schemes aimed at:

  • raising the skills of those in employment
  • providing training to those who wish to acquire skills for the purposes of taking up employment
  • providing information in relation to existing, or likely future, skills requirements in the economy.

Sector Skills is the first training initiative outside the private sector that has been supported by the National Training Fund under the Department of Education and Skills. Detailed quarterly and annual monitoring of activities and financials against target is undertaken as a matter of course. Additionally, several evaluations, feasibility and other reports have been published over the years. Download the 2011 - 2013 Sector Skills programme external review.

Modelled on the approach developed by Skillnets Ireland for the private sector, Training Links encourages charities, community & voluntary organisations and social enterprises to come together in “training networks” to identify shared training needs that build the necessary skills needed in their workforces and to apply for a grant to part-fund their shared efforts to address these needs.

In addition to the provision of substantial financial subsidies to the Training Networks directed at training provision, this programme provides much-needed opportunities for sectoral co-operation and shared learning. 

Learn More

The Wheel provides a wide range of web-based and other training supports for the Irish community and voluntary sector, including:

  • The Employer Resources: Best Practice for Irish Nonprofits website: (previously This service is specifically aimed at providing clear and essential information for employers on all matters relating to employment law, policies, practices and procedures as well as practical templates and briefings. It is free and accessible to all and subscribers to this service receive a monthly newsletter. This service is a collaborative initiative between The Wheel in association with The Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and Adare Human Resource Management.
  • Good Practice Guides are published resources on priority skills areas for people working in nonprofit organisations. A wide range of guides in hard and soft copy have been published for a range of skills-levels. Access guides here.
  • Governance Code for Charities and Community and Voluntary Organisations. The voluntary sector workforce is particularly vulnerable to the governance practices of their employer. This initiative resulted in the development of the de-factor standard for governance affecting employees in the voluntary sector which is provided free to all boards/committees/ executives of not-for-profit groups. Additionally, this initiative funds the provision of skills building training for workers to bring them to the required level of expertise in the wide variety of functions laid out in the Code. 

This element of the Sector Skills programme facilitates the delivery of training and skills-building supports for the leaders and managers of the almost 10,000 nonprofit enterprises in Ireland. They range from 12-day accredited leadership programmes at QQI levels 8 and 9 respectively, through to half-day unaccredited short courses on specific elements, augmented by targeted events to build networking skills and peer-learning.

View the leadership supports and training here.