Education and skills

What has changed?

  • Creation of a cross party Oireachtas Committee to consider findings of the Expert Group on the Future Funding of the Higher Education Sector and to outline a proposed plan.
  • Support for new flexibility for universities within strict budgets, transparency and accountability agreements to address their own staffing and work practices to address issues for their improvement.
  • Technological Universities are supported with priority given to institutions with clear ambitions and plans for the furthering of industry-relevant research and education.
  • Together with the Apprenticeship Council and industry, the number of apprenticeships will be doubled by 2020. Also the number of traineeship places will be significantly increased.
  • Various measures  to change the education structures: increasing flexibility in course attendance, introduction of mid-degree “sandwich year” courses with industry experience in third year, supporting the path to quality employment for those unemployed or underemployed and review and reform of Further, Adult and Community Education  to ensure its effectiveness.
  • A significant number of initiatives were identified to promote new approaches, innovation and enterprise engagement among teachers in schools alongside additional investment in continuous professional development for teachers and preparation courses for new principals.

Positives for business

  • With effective implementation, the programme has the potential to deliver an education system that works closely with business to ensure graduates are acquiring skills that are valued in the jobs market. This availability of talent will make Ireland an attractive location for companies of all sizes and types, and provide a strong basis for a prosperous economy and society.
  • The commitment to address staffing issues will help Irish education institutions attract and retain highly qualified teaching and research staff. This should boost Ireland’s attractiveness to R&D investment and enhance the learning environment for students.
  • Young people will be better equipped to succeed in the workplace, a new generation of dynamic, responsible, cultured and ethically-minded citizens who can realise their potential in an increasingly complex world.  
  • The promotion of creativity and entrepreneurial capacity in students will prepare students to think critically and provide them with the skills to succeed in a global, technology driven economy, whether in a role they are employed in or one they create for themselves.
  • Ibec welcomes the commitment to review the forthcoming STEM report by committee. STEM subjects are essential for Ireland to achieve its economic ambitions and develop the foundations for future growth.

Outstanding issues and missed opportunities

  • While there is a commitment to reintroduce guidance counselling to secondary schools, it is imperative that the review proposed in the National Skills Strategy is undertaken to ensure a service that is fit for purpose.
  • Full implementation of junior cycle reform was not addressed. This needs to be a priority for Government. 

Contact Tony Donohoe, Education and Social policy at
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