Politics & Policies

Skills Gap in Ireland – A significant proportion of those in employment have low level qualifications and a large number of these are older workers

This document presents the main findings from research and consultation undertaken by SOLAS to inform the development of the 2018-2021 Further Education and Training Policy Framework for Skills Development of People in Employment. The findings are based on a review of national and international policy and research, and current policy, provision and supports for employee development in Ireland.

Employee skills development

The importance of enabling those in employment to improve their skills has been recognised internationally for quite some time. This Further Education and Training (FET) policy framework focuses on the skills needs of those in employment, and on enhancing the flexibility and effectiveness of FET provision by the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) in meeting their needs.

Skills have become the global currency of 21st century economies. Skills in the broadest sense refer to what a person knows, understands and is capable of doing. Skills are acquired at all stages of formal education and training and also through non-formal and informal learning. They are developed before people enter the labour market and throughout their working lives. Skills can be lost as well as gained however, for example, through lack of use, and they may also become redundant. This means that maintenance of existing skills and development of new skills is a constant requirement, and the absence or loss of skills can be a barrier to further skills development. In essence, skills are needed to develop skills.

This FET policy framework is an integral means of delivering on the National Skills Strategy 2025. In continuity with the overall ambition and vision of the strategy, it envisages a world of work in Ireland where:
• upskilling during one’s working life is considered normal practice and leads to increased job security, earnings and autonomy at work for employees
• indigenous and multinational firms invest in the development of their staff and benefit through improved productivity and competitiveness of their employees and business
• FET provision is flexible, high quality, accessible and relevant to the changing needs of employees, the economy and industry.

Research data indicate that a significant proportion of those in employment have low level qualifications and a large number of these are older workers. Certain occupations and sectors have low participation rates in lifelong learning. Also it has been found that lower skilled roles are the most likely to be affected by the on-going technological and social changes, but less likely to receive training than the rest of the workforce. The potential demand for employee development in Ireland that has been identified calls for diverse strategies and multiple types of education and training to ensure that Further Education and Training opportunities
are available to workers, vulnerable to the challenges companies, occupations and sectors most of technological and social change.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at 2018-2021 further education and training policy framework for skills development of people in employment: background paper

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