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ICOS Skillnet – the learning and development division of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) has today launched a new online Masters (MSc) Degree course in Co-operative and Social Enterprise for ICOS co-operative members.

The course has been developed in conjunction with UCC Business School and Institute of Co-operative Studies and will be delivered by UCC leading to a Master of Science qualification.

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, “This will be a two year online programme with first enrolments starting now and the programme will start in September. University College Cork has developed an impressive track record of online learning delivery, built up over the past 15 years, and we have a long standing partnership with them across all of our co-operative governance and leadership programmes, so we’re delighted to work with them in bringing this important new programme into being.

“The new Master of Science programme aims to equip participants with the skills to participate meaningfully and effectively at leadership level in co-operatives and social enterprises.  It forms part of our overall programmes designed to enhance leadership skills and capabilities throughout our co-operative sector which is a major contributor to the economy including Ireland’s essential renewal and recovery following from the current pandemic crisis.”

The new programme works to develop the capacity of senior practitioners in co-operative enterprises to respond creatively to the development needs of their business and those of the wider community and society. It is also beneficial as it provides learners combining family responsibilities and full-time jobs with access to postgraduate and personal development opportunities. The specialist new course is highly practical and assignment based. It includes subjects such as co-operative and social enterprise governance, marketing, innovation, leadership and change management and other specialist subjects, and requires a research dissertation to be completed.

This new development forms part of ICOS Skillnet’s overall portfolio of learning and education programmes where, in recent times, over 30 online programmes have been launched to support the co-operative sector, its members and their families, during the current pandemic crisis. ICOS Skillnet also recently launched two free online training courses for management and employees which will help organisations and businesses to meet the requirements of the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol.