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Ministers Harris and Collins launch five-year Action Plan for Apprenticeship - 19th April 2021

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins, have today, (Monday), launched the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025.

The Action Plan sets out a five year strategy to deliver on the Programme for Government commitment of reaching 10,000 new apprentice registrations per year by 2025.

The plan provides a roadmap to a single apprenticeship system and new supports for employers and apprentices.

It will also do the following:

  • create a new National Apprenticeship Office to drive reforms
  • a new grant for employers, with a top-up grant for areas of identified national skills needs and/or targeted recruitment of underrepresented groups such as female apprentices, or lone-parents, people with disabilities, or members of the Travelling community
  • non-financial supports targeted to SMEs in areas such as recruitment and supervision of apprentices
  • set targets for the public sector to take on apprentices and to create cross-sector apprentices
  • examine the potential development of new cross-border apprentice programmes and support apprentice engagement in international programmes such as Erasmus

Minister Harris said:

"People learn in different ways and I want to make sure that everyone is aware apprenticeship can be for them as a route to a qualification into the future.

"The overall apprentice population will grow to over 30,000 registered apprentices in the next five years. In particular we want to ensure that there is equal access for everyone to apprenticeships, irrespective of their background, gender or age.

"We have listened to businesses and employers too and will introduce further supports to make it easier to take on an apprentice and offer you the financial support to do so.

"This plan has the potential to transform this part of our third level system. Apprenticeship is good for the learner and the employer."

Minister Collins said:

"This action plan is based on feedback from enterprise, the education and training sector and apprentices themselves.

"It builds on the apprenticeship system in Ireland, including the strong relationships between employers and the education and training sector and the established collaborative approach between the further and higher education sectors in managing and delivering apprenticeship.

"This Plan will make it easier for employers and apprentices to engage with apprenticeship, supporting and driving innovation in the workplace through responsive and topical programmes."

The Plan also requires public sector employers to increase the level of apprentice recruitment to the public sector to reach 750 new apprentice registrations per annum by 2025.

To view the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 click here (pdf)

 

Ministers Harris and Collins launch department's three-year strategy - 8th March 2021

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister of State for Further Education and Skills Niall Collins have today launched a three-year strategy for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

The department received over 130 submissions and has set six overarching strategic goals - talent, innovation, inclusion, international, governance and capacity.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: 

"The department has ambitious goals to reform our higher education sector, to grow our research and innovation system and to develop the skills agenda.

"At the heart of our department is an objective to ensure everyone regardless of their background, age, gender, or address – achieves their best potential, whether that is through education or the workforce.

"The pandemic has also made us confront many of the challenges we face and I believe this department offers a unique opportunity to ensure nobody is left behind as we rebuild and recover."

The strategy sets out the department's ambition to:

  • improve the transition to further and higher education for school leavers
  • implement a new 10-year strategy to improve literacy, numeracy and digital skills to ensure nobody is left behind
  • reform skills training and invest in upskilling and reskilling opportunities in areas of economic growth including in the area of green and digital skills
  • overhaul the Apprenticeship system and develop a new plan to increase apprenticeships to 10,000 every year
  • put in place a sustainable approach to higher education funding
  • introduce new legislation to reform higher education governance
  • undertake a national engagement on research and science and develop a renewed national strategy to succeed Innovation 2020
  • implement a new Access Plan for higher education and review the Student Grant Scheme
  • grow our international reach and position Ireland as a leader in higher education and research
  • support the establishment of Technological Universities across the country to improve access to higher education and to act as anchors for regional and national innovation and growth
  • advance North South co-operation in higher education and research
  • lead the COVID-19 response for the sector to enable higher and further education to respond to and recover from the ongoing crisis

Minister of State Collins added:

"The department has exciting plans to reform the skills agenda including a new Apprenticeship Action Plan, which will set out ambitious targets to increase the number of people participating in the earn and learn model.

"We will also be developing a series of initiatives to ensure our workforce has the right skills in the aftermath of the pandemic and in areas of economic growth."

Jim Breslin, Secretary General of the department said:

"Our further and higher education and research systems represent a critical national asset which can support the future success of our citizens. Our Statement of Strategy identifies how, as a new department working with a vibrant sector, we can make a difference to our country's future. We received tremendous engagement from across the organisation and from external stakeholders in developing our Strategy and we are eager to work with everyone on its implementation."

Download the Statement of Strategy 2021-2023 here (pdf)

 

Minister Harris launches new one-stop shop for people seeking to retrain or upskill - 18 January 2021

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD has today launched a new online portal for people seeking to upskill or retrain.

The online portal – gov.ie/therightcourse - is a one stop shop for businesses, employees or unemployed persons and outlines the third level options available to them.

This can be a short part-time course, a course for an individual in employment or an option to return to third level.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

"There are so many options out there for people but the system is complex and can overburden some people.

"This online portal offers people a clear picture of what is on offer, how they can access it and the supports available to people also.

"Ireland is a small country. We cannot afford to have untapped talent and we cannot leave any person locked out of society because of a lack of skills.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to confront many of the skills shortages we have. We must ensure our people have access to the skills they need to succeed in life; and Irish business has the people with the skills they need to grow. This is also critical to securing our recovery and ensuring Ireland's people share in that recovery."

The one-stop shop outlines the further education and training places and the courses in higher education on offer, and information for those on a social welfare payment.

Business owners are also encouraged to explore the range of upskilling options available from Skillnet Ireland including enterprise-led business supports, targeted upskilling opportunities for employees in businesses, free online training programmes and virtual job placements.

Minister Harris added:

"If you are unemployed temporarily as a result of COVID-19, now could be the time to do a short course. You can still retain your social welfare payments while undertaking the course.

"Or if you are in employment but want to improve your skillset, there are options available to you too.

"This new portal will be a valuable tool to help each person identify the most suitable upskilling option for themselves and their teams. It will be great at showcasing the diversity of upskilling supports available from formal accredited programmes, apprenticeships to practical work-based learning from all of the agencies.

"It is never too late to learn something new and now is the perfect time to start."

Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins TD said:

"We have so much on offer but it can be a very difficult system to navigate.

"This website outlines all of your options – apprenticeship, traineeship, a short course, a degree, a Masters. And it offers supports for businesses too.

"So, please log onto gov.ie/therightcourse."

Log onto gov.ie/therightcourse for further details.

 

   

See the latest Qualifax Newsletter (September 2020) here

 

21 August, 2020 – Minister Foley provides further update ahead of the reopening of schools

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today provided a further update regarding the plans to fully re-open schools.

With some schools beginning to re-open next week, the Minister acknowledged the enormous work being undertaken in school communities and the commitment of everyone involved in providing a safe environment for the return of children to our schools.

Click here for the full press release

   

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