New FET Micro-Qualification courses to address skills needs of the Irish Workforce launched by Ministers Harris and Richmond

FET for Enterprise/15.01.2024

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Neale Richmond TD today launched Further Education and Training (FET) micro-qualifications - a new FET offering to future-proof businesses.

The launch will mark a transformative upskilling offer for Irish business, for both employees and employers. FET micro-qualifications are short, stackable micro qualification programmes that are delivered locally by the network of 16 Education and Training Boards across the country and developed collaboratively with industry under the Skills to Advance initiative.  

Offering guaranteed accredited qualifications to employees at little or no cost to employers, micro-qualifications are a new route to future-proofing businesses, upskilling teams to address business needs, and flexibly delivered to fit busy work schedules.   Created in partnership with enterprise, FET micro-qualifications are already available in areas as diverse as sustainability, digital, robotics, aquaculture, business innovation and market development, and are set to expand to meet demand.  

All programmes are fully accredited and lead to a Level 4, 5 and 6 Special Purpose Awards on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Commenting on the launch, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, said:

"The provision of accessible and flexible upskilling opportunities that can meet the demands of both business and work is critical for both employees and employers.

"In our constantly changing world of work, these micro-qualifications mark a fundamental transformation in our response to the upskilling needs of enterprise, acknowledging the necessity for employees and employers to meet the demands of the modern workplace.” 

"Targeted initiatives such as these micro-qualifications are delivering for employees and employers, both in supporting them to excel in their chosen fields, while also addressing Ireland’s critical skills gaps.” 

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Neale Richmond TD said:

“Upskilling is central to our ever-changing work environment, allowing employees to stay competitive, boost their productivity and adapt to challenges such as digitalisation and climate change, while future-proofing our businesses.”

“Skills gaps are impacting many businesses and by providing training in a range of areas, from robotics to sustainability and more to come, FET micro-qualifications will work to address these gaps for businesses while benefitting and upskilling workers.”

“The result of strong collaboration between the FET sector and businesses, FET micro-qualifications will be transformative for businesses and employees across the country.”

SOLAS Chief Executive, Andrew Brownlee said:

“Today marks a significant step forward for further education and training with targeted and flexible upskilling options. FET Micro-Qualifications will ensure that enterprise remains responsive to meet the rapidly changing world of work, advances in technology and our commitments to tackling climate change.”

“This groundbreaking nationwide provision of short stackable FET micro-qualifications through the ETB network will deliver fully accredited upskilling opportunities at local level across the country, empowering learners to flourish in their chosen careers while upskilling staff in line with future business needs. The days of doing a block of education from age 18-21 that will serve you throughout your chosen vocation are gone – this initiative reflects the need for a dip in, dip out education and training system that facilitates the continual upskilling and reskilling now required throughout lifetimes and careers.”

“The collaborative partnership between SOLAS, the ETBs and industry has been key to delivering this targeted suite of upskilling programmes. With over 60,000 people having upskilled through Skills to Advance programmes nationwide since 2019, the potential for roll-out and delivery of FET micro-qualifications to Irish enterprise at local level through the ETB network is vast.”

Siobhán Kinsella, Managing Director the Noel Recruitment group and President of the Employment and Recruitment Federation concluded:

“Upskilling staff is crucial for Irish companies to adapt and remain competitive both now and into the future. Fully accredited FET micro-qualifications that lead to awards on the National Framework of Qualifications are key to meeting these business needs.”

“Tailored to meet the current and future requirements of Irish business across key areas such as digital and green skills for sustainability, FET micro-qualifications are accessible to everyone – available at local level through the ETB network and delivered at little to no cost to employers.” 

The programmes have been created in collaboration with SOLAS, the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), QQI, ISME, SFA, Chambers, the Environmental Protection Agency, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Irish Water, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, and the Regional Skills Fora.

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