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Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science | academic and technical sectors training provisions

To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the extent to which he is satisfied that adequate provision continues to be made arising from his discussions with the academic and technical sectors with a view to meeting demand and job specifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Significant focus has been given by my Department to strengthening the skills ecosystem in Ireland to ensure it has the agility and flexibility to adapt to changing priorities in the skills landscape and the rapid, technologically driven changes that we are seeing in the world of work. This is essential to ensuring that Ireland continues to have a skilled and productive workforce.

My Department’s project with the OECD, which is running from November 2021 to March 2023, to review Ireland’s skills approach has seen a comprehensive review throughout the year of these issues.   Clear areas of focus emerging include our need to have more dynamic, granular, real-time data to inform how we respond rapidly to industry’s needs, particularly across digital skills demands in all sectors; our intent to continue focus on short, flexible and blended skilling options for individuals entering and for people transitioning in the workforce; and, our ambition to progress ease of navigability through options for skilling and ensuring individualised, continuous learning journeys are enabled, encouraged and as easy as possible to undertake.

Our existing National Skills Strategy (currently in place 2016-2025) got a lot right. Partnership was woven into the central fabric of our skills policy approach and continues to be a central focus in how we address future skills needs. Skillnet Ireland are undertaking a significant programme of work to embed enterprise driven responses to Ireland’s skills needs.

There are a number of key skills areas which are being progressed at present, including digital skills, green skills, and transversal skills, all of which will have a significant and long-lasting impact.

For example, in February 2022 my Department launched ‘Harnessing Digital – Ireland’s National Digital Strategy’, through which we have committed to driving digital skills offerings to enable all across the labour market. This is in addition to providing digital skills for all, with a target of increasing the share of adults with at least basic digital skills to 80% by 2030; and, increasing the numbers of learners graduating with higher-level digital skills to over 12,400 graduates, apprentices and trainees, with ambition to further increase digital skills provision in following years.

In addition, the Green Skills for FET Roadmap 2021-2030 launched earlier this year incorporates the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, and the Green Skills Action Programme contributing to the intensification of the use of clean technologies and acceleration in the use of renewables commenced in 2021. My Department will continue to work to develop enterprise-relevant courses / micro-credentials to support reskilling and upskilling for residential retrofitting, green skills and offshore renewable energy.

In May of this year, I launched ‘Funding the Future’, a landmark policy which sets out an ambitious programme of reform. This includes five priority strands of work, focusing on ensuring that skills needs for the country are met.

In Higher Education, the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) forms a key part of the strategic response to a changing world of work and the challenges the economy will face in the period ahead. With a strong focus on innovation and agility, the programmes being supported will ensure that graduates from the education system as a whole, are in a position to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

In relation to the areas of science, innovation and research specifically, I am seeking to further momentum in fostering talent to match the dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape of our economy. For example, Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy was published earlier this year. It reaffirms that talent lies at the heart of the Irish research and innovation ecosystem. For future national prosperity, Ireland must be a great place to be a researcher and innovator, and it must attract the best people from all backgrounds, domestically and internationally.

It is these collaborative partnerships that are ensuring that Ireland’s future skills needs will be met, and will respond with agility to the needs of industry.

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