ICOS Skillnet launches innovative free online learning for co-op members, staff, families

ICOS Skillnet – the learning and development division of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) has introduced a series of online and blended learning initiatives to support the co-operative sector, its members and their families, during the current COVID-19 public health emergency and onwards into the future.  Over 30 online programmes have been launched by ICOS Skillnet.

ICOS Skillnet is funded by Skillnet Ireland and member companies. Skillnet Ireland is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.

Billy Goodburn, Head of Learning and Development, ICOS Skillnet said, “We realise this is an extremely difficult time for so many people and their families. Manyco-operative staff are effectively working on the frontline, and many businesses in our communities have been forced to close, hopefully only temporarily. The coronavirus restrictions have left many feeling anxious and stressed with unexpected extra time on their hands.  However, we must also make the best of things. The co-operative sector is renowned for its strength and resilience and it has coped with very many challenges in the past. The processes of training, education and development must continue, and that is why we are delighted to launch a series of initiatives in support of this aim.”

Online Courses

ICOS Skillnet is offering 22 online programmes FREE of charge not only to co-operative members and their staff, but also to their families, their farmer members and their respective families too. Details of the courses is available at www.icosskillnet.ie.

The learning and development division of ICOS has also added 9 free online programmes (including courses relating to Business Management, Corporate Governance, Financial Reporting, Bullying and Harassment Prevention, Good Manufacturing Practice; An Introduction to Continuous Improvement in Manufacturing, Lean and Waste Reduction, Quality Improvement and also Maintaining Improvements. These are also now available on the ICOS Skillnet online learning platform.

Additionally, Billy Goodburn outlined that ICOS Skillnet has worked with some of its training providers and are now offering a series of virtual classroom training sessions for industry. Some of these include, COVID-19 Mitigation Strategy for the Food Industry (1 Day); Setting Remote Working up for Success (2 Days); Successfully Managing Remote Working (2 Days); Emotional Wellbeing & Resilience during COVID-19 (2 Hours). “We are also working with UCC to make some of their more technicalprogrammes, that we already deliver, available through virtual classrooms”.

“We have also developed a top tips list for remote workers for employers and for employees. Additionally, we have received funding to support industry with their training needs (from April inclusive to June 30) at a rate of 100 per cent, with no matching funding requirements, in areas such as business continuity, management development, eCommerce including online retail, and future requirements post COVID 19 in terms of skills development for long term sustainability. This is a new fund made available by Skillnet Ireland who are providing very meaningful and practical supports at this difficult time for industry.”

Concluding, Billy Goodburn revealed that ICOS Skillnet, in conjunction with UCC’s Institute of Co-operative Studies, will be launching a new online Masters (MSc) in Co-operative and Social Enterprise for ICOS co-operative members. This will be a two year onlineprogramme with first enrolments starting in May 2020 and the programme starting in September 2020. “This is a new initiative which we have been working on since before the COVID-19 crisis began. It couldn’t be more timely now at this stage and we are delighted to work with UCC in bringing this important new programme to the co-operative sector.”

ICOS Skillnet is the learning and development division of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society). It is funded by Skillnet Ireland and member companies. Skillnet Ireland is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.

ICOS represents over 130 co-operatives in Ireland – including the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts – whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €14 billion, with some 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas.

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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