Focus on Ireland

The Irish government champions and supports training for its citizens.

Ireland is known for its beautiful scenery. Its coast has been featured in countless movies and books.

In recent years, companies have done business here for many reasons. The Irish are hard-working people and very literate (99 percent literacy rate). Ireland’s main language is English—and it is valued in both its spoken and written form. Ireland has had its share of famous authors, including James Joyce and playwright Samuel Beckett. This serves as a major benefit for North American trainers, who do not need to translate their training content, and can maintain their typical language and speed of delivery.

In addition, Ireland is a member of the European Union. This opens up many business opportunities in Europe with minimal “red tape” for organizations operating here. North American organizations that do business here are well positioned for future growth. For many years, Ireland had the fastest-growing economy in Europe. It experienced a downturn more recently, but business is slowly improving, and the future is bright. Ireland’s highly educated population is skilled in manufacturing higher-order products, including telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

Ireland’s population is slightly less than five million. Because of its relatively small population, Ireland needs to export products to truly grow its economy. There is an awareness that workers require a higher skill set to compete in the global economy. Irish companies can earn far higher profits selling finished goods as opposed to commodities. Training is needed to allow this change to occur. Businesses will benefit from manufacturing products, and exporting them worldwide. Irish companies have strong reputations and are highly regarded for high-tech products.

The Irish government is willing to invest in the country’s business future and attract new global organizations by providing them with a favorable tax situation. It also champions and supports training for its citizens. Training is needed in topics such as customer service, quality, and leadership.

The main locations for training are the capital, Dublin, and the cities of Cork and Belfast. Training programs often are held in hotels or onsite at the company itself.

Training in Ireland is similar to training in North America. Trainers should portray themselves as peers to participants. They should position training as a way for adult participants to build knowledge together with the trainer in a collaborative fashion.

Irish participants do not want to be lectured to. Trainers can and should introduce small group work. The Irish are an outgoing people and will want to participate in training programs. Let participants realize they should not be afraid to speak out and voice their opinions. They should be told that there are no bad questions. This will give them permission to be themselves.

This is an informal culture. Participants will be fine being on a first-name basis with trainers. Although individualism is highly valued, be careful with overt praise. “Showing off” is not appreciated. Trainers should observe and monitor reactions and adjust their feedback style accordingly.

It’s also important to have clear ground rules for the format and schedule of the training. Participants value the structure and organization trainers provide them.

For global organizations looking for growth opportunities, having a presence in Ireland can help them build a strong presence in Europe and beyond.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit