15.01.2024 PRESS RELEASE: New FET Micro-Qualification courses to address skills needs of the Irish Workforce launched by Ministers Harris and Richmond


15th January 2024

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


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.

Find FET micro-qualifications on offer in your local area at https://www.solas.ie/programmes/skills-to-advance/microqualifications/ or by contacting your local Education and Training Board.



Notes to Editor

For more information contact: communications@solas.ie 

Photos of the launch to be issued after the launch event (15th Jan 2024)


About FET Micro-Qualifications

Micro-qualifications are a new and exciting further education and training (FET) offer available from Education and Training boards (ETBs).   Micro-qualifications are short, part-time accredited training programmes.  Micro-qualifications have been developed under the Skills to Advance initiative, which provides subsidised upskilling for companies and those in employment.  10 programmes have been developed in priority skills areas for industry including Green, Digital, and other emerging skills areas such as advanced manufacturing and business innovation.  Micro-qualifications are designed by employers, industry experts, enterprise agencies and ETBs.  The programmes are accredited by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and lead to a Level 5 and 6 Special Purpose Awards on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

About Skills to Advance

Skills to Advance is a national initiative funded by SOLAS that provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees in jobs undergoing change and to those currently employed in vulnerable sectors.  Skills to Advance aims to equip employees with the skills they need to progress in their current role or to adapt to the changing job market.  Working closely with small and medium-sized enterprises, Skills to Advance helps employers identify skills needs and invest in their workforce by providing subsidised education and training to staff.


SOLAS is the state agency with responsibility for funding, planning and co-ordinating further education and training in Ireland and was established in 2013 under the Further Education and Training Act as an agency of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. SOLAS' functions are to manage, co-ordinate and support the delivery of this integrated Further Education and Training by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs); to monitor delivery and provide funding based on reliable, good quality data and positive outcomes; and to promote Further Education and Training provision that is relevant to individual learner needs and national skills needs. This includes the needs of business and future skills requirements. www.solas.ie.