Skills to advance is a national Further Education and Training (FET) initiative that was established to meet the challenges of rapid technological advances and the changing work environment. It was developed in response to the evolving skills and training needs of employees and industry. It seeks to address specific skills needs of target groups by supporting the development of soft and digital skills and responding to the future of work while driving effective regional development.

The initiative provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities to those currently employed in vulnerable sectors, particularly those who have lower skill levels and who need more opportunities to advance in their working lives and to sustain their employment.

Target groups and qualifications

The initiative has three primary target groups:

  • employees in all parts of the workforce whose skill level is below level 5 (EQF 4) on the Irish national framework of qualifications (NFQ). Particular focus is given to employees in jobs with a low skill requirement and those aged 50+ years working in sectors/occupations at risk of economic displacement;
  • all small and medium-sized enterprises and other organisations with limited capacity to identify and meet their employees’ skills development needs in lower skilled work. Support is provided to employers to develop their training expertise including identifying and addressing identified workforce upskilling needs;
  • industry sectors with specific skills needs, arising from emerging opportunities or as a result of economic vulnerabilities. Support to upskill and reskill employees in lower skilled work is provided;

There are three access routes for employees and employers:

  • Route 1 – direct employee access: employees access training by enrolling for relevant development options.
  • Route 2 – access via enterprise engagement: employees can access training through their employer.
  • Route 3 – regional initiatives: employees participate in training as a result of a specific regional skills development initiative related to vulnerabilities in employment and emerging work opportunities.

Under the initiative, a new supervisory management training programme Leading through change has recently been launched in response to the critical challenges that businesses are still facing. The programme is an initiative for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and provides subsidised training to upskill supervisory staff in leadership and management skills. The programme enables companies to deal with the changing business environment. It aims to equip employees with enhanced skills to lead and manage teams effectively. The duration varies depending on the delivery schedule agreed between the employer and the training provider.

The programme is for company employees who are:

  • currently performing a team leader or frontline management role;
  • new to a supervisory role.

There are two qualifications available:

  • certificate in leadership and management
  • diploma in leadership and management.

The certificate could be completed in just three to four months, whereas the diploma typically takes nine to 12 months to complete.

Read more

Skills to Advance Scheme 2019-2021

Skills to Advance - Overview

National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)

Skills to advance brochure