In support of the Programme for Government and the post-COVID recovery plan, the FET sector are prioritising the reskilling and retraining of those unable to return to their previous employment following the COVID19 crisis. Skills to Compete is a SOLAS initiative that will lead this reskilling and retraining response by combining and ramping-up three strands of FET provision, linked to tailored advice and support:

  1. Transversal skills development to help employability.

  2. Build the digital capabilities now required for almost every job.

  3. Specific Level 4-6 courses targeting growth sectors and occupations.

Skills to Compete offers an immediate and powerful labour market activation response to the COVID19 crisis. Skills to Compete offers a package of targeted, modularised education and training aimed at supporting re-entry into the workforce.

Skills to Compete will respond to this situation by addressing gaps within individual skills-sets via targeted modular provision that can improve their employability and ability to compete for opportunities arising. It is interesting to note that both modular provision and a greater use of digital methods of delivery and micro and digital credentialing within the certification mix are key elements of the transformational agenda set out in the new draft strategy for FET provision. Indeed, they are an increasing hallmark of the focused, modular provision in the rollout of Skills to Advance since 2019 for employees and are currently being implemented at considerable pace in order to respond to the remote working and learning world which we now face.

These upskilling opportunities would be supported by the ETB Information and Guidance Service and INTREO Guidance and Activation. Each ETB will shape its own Skills to Compete provision to reflect the labour market characteristics of its region and the responses that will be most effective for their local community.

Under the Government's July Stimulus Package, it was announced that 35,000 additional places in FET and HE will be funded, including via Skills to Compete .Additionally, 12,500 places will be funded through the Training Support Grant for short term skills training, with the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme providing a €2,000 payment to support employers to take on new apprenticeships in 2020.

Specifically, in FET during 2020, 15,000 places will be refocused through Skills to Compete with and additional 4,000 fulltime paces will be provided. The skill to Compete will continue in 2021 with plans in development for and additional 50,000 places over 2020 provision.

Well done to everyone in the Planning and Investment Team who worked to develop Skills to Compete.