Skills Building

Posted on 11 Dec 2020 Last updated on 4 Feb 2021

Building Skills for a Stronger Sector

The Wheel is committed to ensuring that nonprofit workers, both paid and unpaid, and the organisations they work in, have the skills they need to deliver their varied and important missions across Irish society.   

We do this through various means, including an extensive training and events calendar every year, working with partners to provide specially designed accredited programmes, funding peer-led training networks through our Training Links scheme, taking part in skills-building European partnerships, researching the skills and training needs of the sector and advocating on behalf of the nonprofit workforce with key stakeholders.  
We work to ensure that nonprofit organisations, of all types, and those that work for them, are well served by the state's skills development infrastructure.    


In order to inform this work, we have recently commissioned important research to provide evidence on training and skills-building in the nonprofit workforce in Ireland.    

Investment Appraisal of Upskilling Employees in the Nonprofit Sector; 2020, Indecon International Research Economists

This landmark study, carried out by Indecon on behalf of The Wheel, quantifies for the first time the levels of training and upskilling undertaken by people in the nonprofit sector – paid and unpaid. The authors also produced a rigorous cost benefit analysis of investment in upskilling amongst these workers. With input from stakeholders right across the nonprofit sector, including charities, community development organisations, voluntary services providers, social enterprises and community groups, this study makes a compelling case for the need to invest in skills development in the sector. 

In carrying out their study, Indecon undertook new primary research amongst a representative cross-section of CEOs, staff and volunteers of nonprofit organisations, receiving nearly 700 survey responses in all. The high level of engagement with the research across the sector demonstrates the awareness amongst organisations of value of workforce skills development in meeting communities’ needs.  

The report identifies areas where investment is needed to address current and emerging skills gaps in the Irish nonprofit sector. It also identifies areas where more training and investment is required because of anticipated growth in the sector, including IT, marketing and communications, project management and human resource management.  

The report indicates that investment in training in the nonprofit workforce in Ireland is low, in comparison with other sectors in the Irish workforce and with comparable nonprofit workforces in other countries. Specifically, it identifies barriers that impede the necessary investment, such as the cost of training and lack of time available to engage with training amongst workers, and points the way towards the solutions needed in this regard. 

The research also includes a cost benefit analysis which demonstrates a clear net benefit to investing in nonprofit workforce development. On average, for every €1 invested, there will be a return of €2.86, in terms of increased quality and impact – demonstrating clearly the positive return that would follow from increased investment in training in the non-profit sector, including increased innovation in work practices, productivity benefits and lower operating costs.  

The Wheel would like to acknowledge the support of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in funding this research.  

Download Report    

If you would like to find out more about this area of our work, please drop Mairead O’Connor, our Skills Development Senior Manager, an email:  

Training Links

Training Links

Since 2005 The Wheel’s Training Links Programme has had a unique position in Ireland in supporting and promoting training and upskilling of employees, volunteers, board members, and recruits throughout charities, community and voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises - helping to meet needs and requirements in training and upskilling for employment opportunities and related support structures.  

Find out more about this specially designed training fund for nonprofit organisations, including the current awardees:  

Go to Training Links


European Partnerships

European Partnerships

Since 2018 The Wheel has been involved in Erasmus+ funded partnerships, building on our own and our European partners’ expertise, to design innovative skills-building solutions for nonprofits here and across Europe.   




The SCOPE project (2018 - 2020) involved building an online learning platform with introductory modules on Governance, Finance, Fundraising, Communications and Risk for trustees and staff of small nonprofit organisations. 

The project was a collaboration between partners in Ireland, Estonia, Scotland, Finland and Latvia. The partnership also developed a digital badge system to validate the learning. 

Why not try out the SCOPE platform for yourself?  


If you would like to find out more about this aspect of our work, please get in touch with our Programmes Manager, Lauren Carroll,