SOLAS recently published Supporting working lives and enterprise growth in Ireland. This is a new policy framework for employee development opportunities, with the specific aims of supporting working lives and enterprise growth.
The objective for the FET sector in Ireland through this policy document is to ensure flexible, quality, accessible and relevant training supports to employees, employers in industry and the economy. The policy document sets out goals and targets for 2018-21, to be overseen by Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills alongside SOLAS (the national further education and training agency) and education and training boards (ETBs) countrywide. Ireland’s recent economic recovery has been marked by reduced unemployment levels and, as a result, there is increased focus on individuals in employment and their skill needs. As part of the National skills strategy 2025, this FET policy framework will ensure goals and structures are put in place to support the needs of employers and employees in this growing economy.
This new policy document targets those with lower skill levels in the Irish workforce who need more opportunities to, sustain their employment, and avoid displacement or to avail of emerging job opportunities or advancement within their current careers. Employees with a qualification of level 5 or below on the national qualifications framework (EQF level 4) will have access to upskilling opportunities free of charge across all further education and training provision. Employees with qualifications at level 5 and above on the NFQ (EQF level 4) will contribute to training costs.
In addition to supporting employees in the workforce, this framework also aims to provide support for employers, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who may require assistance to invest in and develop their workforce.
Delivery and funding
The education and training boards (ETBs) will be central to supporting employee and employer upskilling needs. Funding for the training will be allocated by SOLAS to the ETBs. Training will be delivered by ETBs across three access routes to all levels of FET provision for employees and employers; direct employee access where employees engage with ETBs; access via enterprise engagement where employees access training through their employers partnering with an ETB; regional initiatives where employees are trained as a result of a particular identified regional skill development initiative. Course content will address the individual development needs of the learner and includes both soft/socio- emotional and technical skills development. The content will be constantly reviewed to ensure relevance to industry needs. In turn, the ETBs will invest in infrastructure and professional development that enhance their capacity to engage with employers on identifying skill needs which will be required in the labour market.
Policy Skills Development 2018