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The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D., yesterday (Tuesday 11th September) launched a new policy aimed at developing the skills of people in employment.

Developed by SOLAS in consultation with education and enterprise stakeholders, ‘Supporting Working Lives and Enterprise Growth in Ireland’ is a new policy which will enable targeted support for vulnerable groups in the Irish workforce. Particular target groups are those who have lower skills levels and who need more opportunities to advance in their working lives and careers and/or to sustain their employment. The policy also supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who need assistance to invest in and develop their workforce.

Supporting those in work to upskill and advance their careers is crucial to making Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.

The policy draws on a vision of the workplace in Ireland where:
  • Upskilling during an employee’s working life is considered normal practice and has a direct correlation with enhanced job security, higher earnings and autonomy at work for employees;
  • Indigenous and multinational firms systematically invest in the development of their staff and benefit through improved productivity and competitiveness of their employees and business;
  • Provision in further education and training which supports employee development is flexible, high quality, accessible and relevant to the changing needs of employees, the economy and industry.


Launching the report, Minister Bruton said “Ireland is currently behind in this area. This represents a major challenge for both enterprise and the education and training sector to develop and nurture the talent that is already in the workplace, both to drive enterprise success and to facilitate the personal career path of the individual.”

“Both business and the education sector need to substantially step up their efforts to meet the very ambitious target we have set– at least 15% of adults participating in lifelong learning by 2020. We will need a substantial increase in activity and novel, inventive programmes to deliver on this target. We are looking for measurable actions, which we will include and report on each year as part of our annual Action Plan for Education, which sets out our strategy to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.”

Three primary groups are targeted:
  • Employees in all parts of the workforce whose skills level is below Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Such employees can access upskilling opportunities free-of-charge across relevant further education and training provision. There will be a particular focus on employees who are in jobs with a low skill requirement, 50+ years of age, or in sectors/occupations at risk of economic displacement.
  • All small and medium sized enterprises and other organisations with limited capacity to identify and meet skills development needs of their employees. Employers will be supported to develop their training expertise including identifying the upskilling needs of their workforce and in providing training solutions.
  • Industry sectors with particular skills needs, arising from emerging opportunities or as a result of economic vulnerabilities. Support will be provided to employers of all sizes in industry sectors which are experiencing changes in work practices, technology and markets.

    It is planned that by 2021 over 40,000 workers will be engaging in state supported skills development, 4,500 SMEs will be supported to thrive and grow and Ireland will further enhance its competitiveness on the European and global stage.

    Speaking at the launch, Paul O’Toole, CEO, SOLAS said “in partnership with the Education and Training Boards, we are looking forward to implementing this exciting new policy, supporting the upskilling and reskilling of employees across a wide range of sectors and businesses in the economy.”

    The development of and implementation of this policy is a key deliverable under the 2018 annual Action Plan for Education. It complements ongoing investment in skills development by employers and existing government-supports initiatives which include Skillnet Ireland, Springboard+, Skills for Work, Skills for Growth, the Regional Skills Fora and Local Enterprise Offices.

    Implementation of the policy will be overseen by the Department of Education and Skills and SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, working closely with the sixteen Education and Training Boards (ETBs) around the country. Targeted companies and learners will access support directly from their local ETB. ETBs will build on existing provision, partnering with employers to design additional supports which will enable a major step-up in participation and engagement.

    Lifelong learning and skills development are key elements of the Europe 2020 strategy for generating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. The Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020, which is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund, supports lifelong learning with a strong focus on supporting people to enhance their skills in line with labour market developments.

    Notes to editors:



    To view the policy documents see;

    Supporting Working Lives and Enterprise Growth in Ireland

    www.solas.ie/SkillsToAdvance

    More photographs are available from:
    Maxwell Photography, Tel: 01 8308072

    For further information, contact Maria Walshe, SOLAS Communications Unit, Tel: 087 2074280.

    SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, was established under primary legislation in 2013 and is responsible for funding, co-ordinating and monitoring Further Education and Training. SOLAS’ main partners, the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are responsible for the delivery of the majority of Further Education and Training courses.