In March 2017, the Irish Government launched a public consultation on a proposed exchequer-employer investment mechanism for education and training interventions in post-secondary education in Ireland. The consultation will examine the feasibility of an increase in the National Training Fund levy from 0.7% to1% by 2020, delivering up to €200 million in additional funding for education and training in the workplace from employers.

The initiative stems from the Action Plan for Education (Department of Education and Skills, 2016) which aims to address, among others, the three key issues of skills, research and disadvantage. The outcomes to be delivered include:

  • an increase in the number of  third level students undertaking a work placement or work based project as part of their course by 25% by 2021
  • completion of the delivery of a 10% increase in the number of employees reached by Skillnets between 2016 and 2017  (Skillnets is a state funded, enterprise-led organisation which promotes and facilitates training and upskilling of workers in order to meet enterprises’ needs)
  • an increase in the number of people doing traineeships and apprenticeships by 2020.

The initiative is part of the Government’s recognition that further and higher education and training (including vocational education and training) has a critical role to play in meeting the demands of learners and society, as well as addressing the skills needs of enterprise and ensuring a sustainable supply of skills particularly in the context of a changing world of work, innovation and Brexit.