Universities, colleges and institutes of technology urged to apply for special funding to develop new courses and drive innovation at third level

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. today (Thursday 7th November) joined Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D., Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan TD. to launch the €300 million Human Capital Initiative and the Skills and Talent pillar of Future Jobs Ireland.

The special fund – €60 million per year over five years – was detailed at the Future Jobs Summit held at the Tangent Centre, Trinity College Dublin.

The significant third level investment will help to develop new undergraduate places, new conversion courses for graduates to meet identified areas of skills needs in our modern workforce and drive agility and innovation in the sector.

 

An Taoiseach said: “The world is changing fast. Technology continues to herald new ways of doing business and new economic opportunities. It is not only the types of jobs that will be changing, but the way that we work. Future Jobs Ireland ensures that as our economy changes, and traditional industries and practices are disrupted, workers and enterprises are able to transition successfully. If we adapt now, our enterprises can stay competitive and our society resilient. If we don’t then we will quickly fall behind.

“Future Jobs Ireland represents a proactive approach to avoiding the mistakes of the past, when we were over-reliant on a few sectors and complacent about future economic risks. My message is simple; there is no tolerance for any complacency at any level within Government, when it comes to the Irish economy.”

Minister McHugh said: “The Future Jobs Summit is the right place to flag the new €300 million investment fund for higher education. The money will help colleges and universities to develop new undergraduate places, as well as create conversion courses to help graduates find the right career path.

“A fund of this scale will support colleges and universities to be more innovative. It is an investment in people and skills for the future.”

The €300 million Human Capital Initiative forms part of the Enhancing Skills and Developing and Attracting Talent Pillar of Future Jobs Ireland.

 

Launching the pillar, Minister Humphreys said: “Our people are our greatest resource and our greatest competitive advantage. Ensuring that young people are equipped with the right set of skills as they transition from education to the workforce is a cornerstone of Future Jobs Ireland. The Human Capital Initiative will provide us with the innovative workers we need to future-proof our economy.”

 

Welcoming the third level investment through the HCI, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Funding of this scale is great news for our students and for our institutions. This investment will support our institutions to address the skills needs of the economy, future proof graduates and ensure that there is a greater focus across the whole spectrum of higher education courses on promoting and embedding the key skills that employers will value in future. It also aims to contribute to mitigation of Brexit risks, promote regional development and strengthen relationships between the higher education sector and enterprise.”

 

Highlighting the importance of innovation at third level, Minister Halligan said: “The HCI will incentivise continued reform and innovation in third level provision, building on best practice nationally and internationally, strongly supporting innovation in programme design and delivery. With its strong focus on innovation and agility, it will enable us to ensure that our graduates and the education system as a whole, are in a position to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

 

The primary objective of the Human Capital Initiative is to fund additional capacity across the higher education sector and to use that investment to meet priority skill needs for the future.

The special fund totals €300m over five years – €60m a year from 2020 to 2024. The finance is being provided from the surplus in the National Training Fund (NTF) in line with recommendations contained in the independent review of the NTF and the development of labour market skills.

The HCI consists of three main pillars which will form the basis of three competitive calls over the coming months.

1. Graduate conversion and specialisation courses

2. Additional places on undergraduate provision

3. An innovation and agility fund

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