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Minister Harris launches over 14,000 free or subsidised higher education places to help people get back to work and upskill workers

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (Tuesday October 27th) announced over €30 million in free and subsidised higher education places under the Jobs Stimulus package to help get people back to work, upskill workers and build economic confidence while continuing to manage the impact of COVID-19.

The funding has been approved to support the provision of 11,597 places on short, modular courses together with an additional 2,555 postgraduate places.

Minister Harris said: “The higher education sector has responded swiftly and effectively to the challenges that have arisen over recent months.

“The courses we are launching today will form a further response to the impacts of the global pandemic, providing upskilling and reskilling places for those who have been most affected and ensuring that they have the skills most needed by employers today. Many courses focus on future proofing the skills of those in employment, particularly in roles that may be impacted by digitalisation.

“These courses will enable people across the country to embark on new pathways, or refresh or reskill in their employment. We must ensure a jobs led recovery by putting upskilling and SME supports centre stage. This is a crucial part of the jigsaw.”

The 2,555 postgraduate places will be on 207 existing courses in 23 public and private higher education institutions. The places are available on courses in a wide range of skills areas, including Data Analytics, Environmental Sciences, Engineering, Tourism and Hospitality, ICT & Health and welfare including Medical Technology.

Modular courses are short and focused and will be offered in a flexible manner, allowing people to gain important skills without taking a considerable period away from the labour market.

Each module will be stand-alone so that participants can gain skills and put them into practice immediately in the workplace, but modules are also accredited in such a way as to provide building blocks to a full qualification should the student so wish.

These 538 modular courses across a broad range of subjects in 32 higher education institutions, represent a new route into lifelong learning, and provide upskilling and reskilling opportunities for those who need it, while ensuring that they remain close to the labour market.

The Minister said: “This is exactly the kind of initiative we need to increase Irish university capacity to extract and adapt high-demand modules from existing programmes, and develop tailored courses, to suit the needs of enterprise and lifelong learning.”

Alan Wall, CEO of the Higher Education Authority said: “It is great to see the HEA working in partnership with higher education institutions to unlock the flexibility of third level in dealing with difficult times.”

Details of these courses will be available on the HEA website, and anyone interested in applying should contact the higher education institution directly for further details.

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