Applications open for MentorsWork Mentoring Scheme

May 23, 2022
  • 1,000 places on mentoring scheme backed with €1.2m Government funding
  • Wider access; includes small businesses with less than 5 employees
  • More intensive programme for faster growing businesses
  • Additional new Business Plan support for former MentorsWork participants
  • New Green Economy business stream

The 2022 MentorsWork programme, an award-winning Government initiative offering mentoring and business development tools for SMEs, launched today.

Simon Harris TD, Minister of Further and Higher Education, joined Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive, Paul Healy, and programme organisers from the Small Firms Association (SFA) to announce detail of this year’s more wide-ranging scheme.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I’m thrilled to launch this brilliant initiative, which has done so much to help businesses over what has been two very challenging years.

“The heart of my Department’s mission is ensuring that everyone in society has the chance to reach their potential, and this, of course, includes business owners.

“Through this mentorship programme companies, and people, acquire technical and transversal skills, and crucial guidance on leadership, creativity, teamworking and problem solving. Emerging from the pandemic, MentorsWork will help SMEs navigate a much-changed world, one in which digital transformation and inflationary pressure presents a new set of challenges and opportunities.”

Ireland has an advanced system of skills provision, across Further and Higher Education, lifelong learning, and human capital development; it is agile and responsive to changes in the world of work, addressing evolving skills needs and the needs of our economy and society, the Minister concluded.

Exceptional Business Support

Launched in 2020, MentorsWork has helped more than 1,000 businesses all around Ireland in challenging times. The next round of 1,000 programme places is open to SME owners and leadership teams across all industries. Any private sector business with up to 250 employees is eligible to participate in the 12-week mentoring and business planning programme.

Feedback from business owners who completed the programme has been exceptional, with many recognising that their enterprise may not have survived the pandemic without the professional guidance of their mentor, Sven Spollen-Behrens of the SFA says.

“The programme focus is now on rebuilding and on actioning development plans introduced or planned during lockdown. Family businesses and smaller enterprise is very resilient. Many of the business pivots that determined owners had to implement have opened up exciting new opportunity that can be capitalised on, going forward.”

“At Skillnet Ireland we support business owners and managers to navigate the challenges they are facing and facilitate opportunities to grow their businesses by offering supports that are targeted at their specific needs. We are pleased to announce this expansion of the MentorsWork programme which includes the new green economy business stream, helping SMEs examine what climate change means for their business model. The opportunity to analyse talent needs, gain expert advice and develop bespoke business plans through MentorsWork is essential to driving sustainable growth and innovation across the SME sector.”, Paul Healy explains.

A new aspect of the 2022 programme is that businesses with less than 5 employees can now apply to be part of the mentoring support scheme, and gain access to experienced mentors who can support them affect real change and growth.

As not all businesses have the same growth trajectory, we now have a more intensive programme for faster growing businesses that are accepted on the scheme. A new Green economy stream supporting owners and managers working in low carbon, resource-efficient and socially-inclusive businesses has been introduced too, to ensure Irish businesses have access to the supports they need to build sustainable operating models and develop the talent to respond to this shift.

Also, the 2022 programme will offer consultancy services to businesses that have gone through MentorsWork previously, in either 2020 or 2021, and now require further support with a business development plan.

Here be Dragons!

Businessman and broadcaster, Bobby Kerr, who is an ambassador for the MentorsWork programme, says that putting in a pathway to sustainable business development, with targets to support and chart growth, is invaluable.

“I have had my own mentors and I have worked as a mentor to others, and, invariably, that third-person independent insight helps tremendously to navigate both early-stage planning, as well as that push to grow further when a business plateaus”, the former Dragon says.

The first ever ‘in-person’ MentorsWork conference is planned for Thursday, 23 June, in Dublin. It will have practical advice on this year’s programme, including the new Green Economy strand, as well as reports on small business finance, growth skills and digital skills.

The 12-week business support programme offers one-to-one mentoring from an independent professional mentor, experienced in the business area, as well as masterclasses and peer-to-peer workshops. It includes an online diagnostic tool to provide insights and help business owners and managers identify key skills and development needs.

There is also access to a self-paced learning portal and online resources in the MentorsWork business development package which is free to business owners and managers of SMEs. Integrated learning supports address four key areas; People, Business Processes, Finance and Growth, and Digitalisation and Automation.

The programme is provided by the Small Firms Association (SFA) in partnership with Skillnet Ireland. 97% of participating businesses have successfully completed the transformational programme, to date.

MentorsWork has supported businesses in many sectors including services and manufacturing operations working in domestic and international markets. Lifestyle, hair and beauty, childcare, technology, retail, marketing services, recruitment and small manufacturing have been largely represented. with businesses from over 16 counties participating in the 12-week programme.

SME owners and managers can apply to participate at


Paul Healy, CEO Skillnet Ireland; Bobby Kerr, Broadcaster and Businessman; Simon Harris TD, Minister of Further and

Higher Education; Geraldine Magnier, SFA Vice-chair and co-owner Idiro Analytics.