Sector Skills

Download the Sector Skills Programme 2011 - 2013 External Review Report Now

This report summarises the key developments under The Wheel Sector Skills Programme 2011 - 2013, including:

  • The Training Links Programme
  • Web-based and other training supports
  • Leadership Development.

Click on the image or just click here to dowload the report now (PDF, 899KB).

Sector Skill is a comprehensive initiative from The Wheel to address the training needs of the community and voluntary sector in Ireland.

The initiave grew out of the findings of a report entitled, 'Training Solutions for the Community and Voluntary Sector in Ireland', which was commissioned by The Wheel in 2005. 

You can download the original report here.

There are three main strands within the Sector Skills initiative:

  1. Training Links

  2. Web-based Training and Other Supports

  3. Leadership Development

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

Background to the project

One of the overarching issues within the community and voluntary sector has long been one of capacity – the 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 paid and voluntary staff, including board members with the right skills to fulfil their responsibilities. In order to build the capacity of the sector, measures need to be in place to support the development of the skills of the individuals who work within it.

Many agencies and individuals from both within the community and voluntary sector as well as from other sectors have provided much of this type of support very successfully over the last number of years and many government departments finance their work. The purpose of this Sector Skills initiative is to complement and support this valuable work.

Funding for Sector Skills

The Wheel acknowledges the financial support of €1 million given by the Department of Education and Skills under the National Training Fund to develop three programmes for the Sector Skills pilot phase. The second Sector Skills cycle began in January 2008, The Wheel having received a commitment of another €1 million from the department. It is expected that the outcomes will continue to provide a clear road-map to ensure that an adequate and meaningful support infrastructure is firmly established for the Sector over the coming years.

What is the National Training Fund? Where did Sector Skills come from?

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.

The Fund is resourced by a 7% training levy on most of the country’s employees and its purpose is to support skills development in our economy.

Employees working in the community and voluntary sector also contribute to The National Training Fund through PRSI contributions made by their employers.

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.

You can download a selection of Sector Skills project reports here.

For more information contact Elizabeth Bolger or Tel: (01) 454 8727.


Modelled on the approach developed by Skillnets Limited for the private sector Training Links encourages community and voluntary organisations to unite in “training networks” to identify shared training needs and to apply for a grant to address these needs. This approach offers participants significant cost efficiencies and other collective benefits.

Training Links offers funding opportunities to groups of organisations that chose to come together and work collaboratively to address their shared training needs as a Training Network. The current Training Links programme runs from November 2014 to September 2016.

The Training Network is subsidised by The Wheel - with funding from the National Training Fund - over the period of the programme to develop and implement strategic, innovative and cost-effective training and development solutions for its members which they would be not be in a position to undertake as effectively on their own.

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. 

Click here to access in-depth information about Training Links programme.

The Wheel provides a wide range of web-based and other training supports for the Irish community and voluntary sector, including:
  • Learningpoint, a free online database featuring hundreds of training courses from many different training providers located across the country, offering hundreds of different training courses in a wide variety of topics and disciplines. Learningpoint is free to browse and find courses on, as well as to register a training provider / list and advertise training courses on. Previously a standalone website, was absorbed into in 2010. Visit Learningpoint now >>>
  • With over 100,000 people employed and a further 560,000 volunteers in the sector, the Employer Resources: Best Practice for Irish Non-profits - (previously is specifically aimed at providing clear and essential information for employers on all matters relating to employment law, policies, practices and procedures. The Employer Resources website is free and accessible to all, providing practical templates and briefings. It is a collaborative initiative between the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, The Wheel and Adare Human Resource Management. The site provides up-to-date information on employment legislation, leave entitlements, industrial relations, disciplinary and grievance procedures, equality, bullying and harassment, recruitment and selection, employee appraisals, managing diversity, work-life balance, health and safety, salary scales and redundancy, with monthly newsletters sent to subscribers. Visit now >>>
  • The Social Policy Monitor, an on-line information service, is of interest to social justice non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and voluntary sector activists interested in issues of poverty and social exclusion. The website is no longer being updated - but is still available to browse as an archive. Visit now >>>
  • Best Practice Guides are published resources on priority development areas for non-profit organisations. Available guides so far have covered collaboration, governance, outcomes and impacts, risk management, HR management and general non-profit management. View our best practice guides now >>>
  • Guidance in the adoption of the Code of Good Governance for the Community and Voluntary Sector. The Code was published in March 2012 following collaboration and input from key community, voluntary and charitable sector organisations, Corporate Governance Association of Ireland, Arthur Cox and Sheila Cahill Consulting. The Wheel, under the Sector Skills programme, supported dissemination and training in relation to the operation of the Code across the non-profit sector. Learn more about The Wheel's Governance training here >>>
  • Be the Change is a quarterly magazine published by The Wheel in partnership with IFP Media. The aim of the publication is to reflect the full range of activity and the diversity of opinion in Ireland’s non-profit sector. Read Be the Change now >>>

The Wheel's series of Leadership development-related workshops and special events provide a range of accredited and unaccredited programmes to support:

  • The voluntary leadership of organisations, i.e. those volunteers on our boards and committees
  • Professional non-profit leaders, i.e. who are responsible for running whole organisations, or parts of them
  • The activist/community leader who plays a key community-based role in developing and nurturing collective action at a local level.

In particular, The Wheel's Leadership Development programme includes:

Designed to provide both established and emerging leaders within the Irish community and voluntary sector with a forum in which to gather and learn, The Wheel Member's Leadership Network provides regular opportunities to connect and brainstorm with your fellow innovators from across the sector.

Each of these free networking events revolves around a key topic of discussion and abides by strict confidentiality rules. The Wheel Member's Leadership Network is open to all members of The Wheel who are in leadership/management positions and those who are interested in learning more about Leadership.

Tailormade to fit the tight schedule of managers and leaders in the Irish community and voluntary sector, The Wheel's Leadership Breakfast Briefings provide a bite-sized opportunity to hear from some of the most interesting speakers out there, covering a wide variety of leadership-related topics (each briefing has a new speaker). 

Each Breakfast Briefing also provides an important space for leaders to come together for networking and connection purposes. All Leadership Breakfast Briefings are free for managers and leaders in the Irish community and voluntary sector (though registration is required).

Upgrade your leadership skills with The Wheel's series of Positive Leadership Days, each one featuring a fresh focus on essential leadership skills.  Attend just one event or book for all four with a generous discount. 

You can attend just one event or attend all 4-day series and receive a 25% discount on the total cost.

The Wheel’s two accredited leadership development programmes provide groundbreaking professional development and skills-building for leaders in the Irish community and voluntary sector. Developed by The Wheel to help Irish non-profit leaders excel in the most challenging of times, the aim of both programmes is to foster excellent leadership by professionalising standards and raising the status of leadership within the sector. Both programmes are being delivered in Dublin.

The two programmes available are:

  1. Leadership for Equality: this 6-month programme, delivered by Community Action Network (CAN), aims to strengthen and develop the personal capacity of leaders within the Irish community and voluntary sector. It offers an expanded model of leadership and skills-set that will address the daily complex challenges for self, organisation and society. Accreditation: level 8 (further details below).
  2. Leaders for Change: this programme will equip participants with the practical skills and theory required for effective leadership and management. The programme is delivered over a 6-month period by Quality Matters using creative, evidence based approaches and psychometric assessments. Accreditation: level 9.