Building Skills

Updates from April 2023 Steering Group meeting

FET will build skills to anticipate and respond to rapidly evolving regional and national needs. FET can facilitate a pathway that will link to a particular career or profession, either directly or through ongoing study in higher education. It will not only provide a pipeline of talent for employers, but it will also provide them with a resource to ensure that the skills of their workforce remain relevant and equipped for cutting-edge technology and practice.

The Building Skills Implementation Advisory Group will bring all key stakeholders around the table with a role in driving strategy delivery within this pillar to focus on implementation of the Building Skills action plan.

  • Apprenticeship Action Plan: To date 7 meetings of the National Apprenticeship Alliance have taken place. The transition team in National Apprenticeship Office is leading out on the deliverables of the plan including, a new employer grant, promotion of apprenticeships and the development and roll out of new apprenticeships.

  • The Apprenticeship Steering Group (with representatives from DFHERIS, SOLAS, HEA, QQI and the NAO) continues to meet to progress the development of a single integrated apprenticeship system. At present 7 key workstreams have been identified to progress from Q2 – Q4 in 2023. This includes work on a public stakeholder engagement process; discussion on the future structure and governance of the apprenticeship system; future funding model for apprenticeship as we move to a single integrated system over time.

  • Demand for craft apprenticeships so far in 2023 are 25% ahead of the same period in 2022.

  • Majority of craft apprentices waiting for off-the-job training for phases 4 and 6 have now been cleared. Significant progress continues to be made on Phase 2 waiting lists, as additional capacity comes on stream. Excess backlogs are expected to be brought in line with normal waiting list levels by the end of 2023, if appropriate interventions can be agreed – discussions with staff representatives are ongoing.

  • Additional training capacity has been confirmed for 2023 in Drogheda, Tullamore and Galway, as part of the Expressions of Interest process deployed in May 2022, delivering dedicated electrical training provision. Further ETB training provision continues to be developed in parallel, focusing on electrical, plumbing and Carpentry & Joinery nationally.

  • A further €17.017m in capital investment into 2023 has been proposed. The funding would ensure continued progress in reducing apprenticeship waiting lists.

  • In March, the Employer Survey for Apprenticeship was launched by Minister Collins and Janssen Ireland in Limerick. An email with a survey link went to 8,800+ employers. Closing date was 14th April.

  • Winter Skills Bulletin published  - Focused on labour market 'slack' in  Ireland. The report referenced the need for education and training interventions for a significant number of those in the labour market slack cohort, to meet national skills needs.

  • Reports published since the beginning of this year by the SLMRU in SOLAS have included: Regional Labour Markets profiles, Recruitment Agency Survey, and the Spring Skills Bulletin (on Youth Employment).

  • The new National Skills Bulletin for 2023 is currently in preparation.

  • Construction Safety Licensing Bill 2023 was formally launched on 24th March 2023. The Bill will now undergo further legislative scrutiny. SOLAS have been designated as the Competent Authority and will have responsibility for establishing this new regulatory body.

  • Progress on Modern Methods of Construction Demonstration Park: Expression of Interest Stage One has been completed. Stage Two meetings for final design and costings have also been completed. Tender process completed and procurement of contractors to commence in line with planning application. Planning Application for the construction of the housing pads will be submitted end of April 2023. If planning approved, it is anticipated that work will commence on construction of the pads in August 2023.

  • NZEB Centres of Excellence: Three centres established and operational for NZEB training. A fourth CoE (Cork ETB) will be formally launched by Minister Harris on 15th May 2023.

  • Research on international and national effective practice and gaps and opportunities for ETBs regarding FET for Enterprise, is underway.

  • Skills to Advance starters (end March) - 5,320 representing 29% of achievement against 2023 target. Level 6 Programme in Circular Economy is to be validated at the April PAEC meeting. Level 5 Sustainable Procurement and Supply Chains programme descriptor was presented at the March Oversight Group meeting, for review and sign off to be uploaded to QQI QHub in April. 277 starters have participated in the Level 4 Environmental Sustainability Awareness (162) and the Level 5 Environmental Sustainability in the Workplace (115).

  • The Strategic Review of eCollege & TEL and the programme evaluations have concluded with draft recommendations considered by the SLT and Board in March 2023.

  • In 2022 there were 18,667 new starts on the eCollege service. Up to 31st March 2023 there have been 4,926 new starts on the eCollege service.

  • The automated application process launched in November, meaning economic status and highest level of education is now being captured uniformly on PLSS for all eCollege learners. Accessibility reports and fixes are now available at a site and course level on eCollege and provide a metric for accessibility in QA reporting.