A new training fund worth half a million euro has been announced by Skillnets, the national training and upskilling body.

The fund, which is aimed at private sector companies, is open for applications for the next three months.

Groups of companies must join together to form a network to apply for funding.

Skillnets currently funds and facilitates training through 55 networks of companies in a range of sectors and regions.

To date, the training body has facilitated over 60,000 Irish enterprises to upskill over 275,000 employees.

In addition, the organisation has trained over 9,000 job-seekers since 2010.

Under the fund announced today, Skillnets will make grants available to new training networks to pilot the delivery of training.

Successful applicants will be required to provide matched funding of at least half of all costs associated with training delivery.

Alan Nuzum, CEO of Skillnets said the organisation was focusing on the need to preserve jobs and create new jobs through industry-led training interventions.

"With this new funding round, we are placing a particular emphasis on training for regions and industries not fully serviced by the training networks already in operation," he said.

"We have identified two regions of the country where our existing networks have an insufficient presence to serve the training needs of the local economy: the Borders region and the Midlands. So we'll be encouraging funding applications from those areas in particular, and we'll be holding information sessions for businesses in the Border counties and the Midlands over the coming weeks to demonstrate to them the value of participating in a Skillnets training network."