A Chance To Upskill Your Nonprofit Staff

Posted on 30 May 2023

Have employees and volunteers in your organisation attended the training courses they require?

Ireland has over 500,000 nonprofit workers, paid and unpaid, who need relevant skills to excel in their roles. One in every three people delivering public services in Ireland works for a charitable, community or voluntary organisation. It is vital that conditions are created to enable these workers to attend training courses to update their current skills and learn new ones. However, we know that there are barriers that can make it difficult for people in our sector to access training.


The Wheel has commissioned research which examined training and development in the sector. Findings from an Indecon Study of Upskilling of Nonprofit Employees suggest that:

  • there are critical skills gaps
  • the levels of training are very low 
  • there is need for investment 
  • investment is likely to yield a positive return – almost 3 euros for every 1 euro spent.

The primary barriers for workers wishing to attend a course were:

  • not having the time
  • organisations willing to offer training, but not having funding
  • organisations not willing to pay for training or facilitate it.

Areas most in need of support

The critical skills gaps emerging from the Indecon research include fundraising, digital skills, marketing & communications, HR, project management and leadership. These areas are expected to become more important as organisations in the sector change and grow.

A Report on the Support Needs of the Sector by Sheila Cahill Consulting, commissioned by The Wheel and Carmichael, and co-funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, features the views of employers, employees, funders, regulators and policymakers. The findings highlight key areas in need of training and development support. They are:                         

  • Strategic & operational planning 
  • Funding 
  • Governance 
  • Financial management
  • HR / Staff management
  • Volunteer management
  • Legal 
  • Impact Measurement
  • Digital skills
  • Communications
  • Policy and research
  • Collaboration 
  • Sub-Sectoral specific.

Training Opportunities

It is clear that the need for training is high across the sector. The Wheel is collaborating with SOLAS to improve conditions for employers and employees in the sector; aiming to remove the barriers to training and widen the opportunities.

There are excellent training courses available through your local ETBs, of which there are 16 placed strategically around the country. They offer highly subsidised, accredited courses through Skills to Advance - a national initiative providing opportunities to employees in a range of areas such as leadership and management, digital skills, green skills and other sought-after topics.

To learn more, look at this short webinar which covers:

  • Research findings relating to training and development in the sector
  • Opportunities for upskilling through your local ETB
  • The impact of some existing partnerships and programmes.

Moving forward

For those in a position to initiate change in their organisation, now is the time to consider the benefits of upskilling for yourself or your staff. The research suggests it is worth the investment.

Huge changes face nonprofit organisations - social, environmental, technological, demographic and economic. To meet these challenges, workers must be given the opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge.

Learn about available opportunities from your local ETB and visit Skills to Advance to find the right course for you or your staff.

SOLAS also run eCollege; a free government funded online training facility which provides a range of online learning courses in areas such as energy management, digital marketing and office productivity. If you like to learn at your own pace, eCollege is for you.

Learn more here.

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