Budget 2021 education funding will focus on supporting full-time students and opening up opportunities for reskilling and retraining.
Today (13 October), the Government announced that €8.9bn will be allocated to the Department of Education as part of Budget 2021. This will include €50m to provide assistance to full-time third-level students and €120m for reskilling and upskilling people affected by the pandemic.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, TD, and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins, TD, announced the funding as part of the Government’s overall Covid-19 recovery package.
The funding will financially support full-time students, open up opportunities for reskilling and retraining and extend the Government’s Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme.
Digital upskilling will be a priority. Solas and Skillnet Ireland will receive funding for more than 10,000 upskilling and reskilling opportunities, such as the Skills to Advance and Skills to Compete programmes. In addition, 4,000 new apprenticeships will become available.
The goal, Harris said, is to “help people who have lost their job get back on their feet”. He said that the funding will target people who “require it the most”, whether they are seeking employment or hoping to upskill in their current role.
Initiatives will align with the Government’s plans for a green recovery, with a new retrofitting training scheme and a new climate action upskilling scheme.
“For students, this year has been like no other,” Harris added. “Investment in education, research and science will help to support a more sustainable, resilient and fair recovery across Ireland.”
Key points of the education package include:
- Almost €30m will be invested in supporting researchers, building capacity, support Covid research and strengthening north-south research links
- The SUSI fee grant will be increased by €1,500 for postgraduate study and the income eligibility threshold will be adjusted
- Funding will be provided to sustain additional places in higher education and further increase Springboard places
- Investments in infrastructure will expand student places, upgrade existing infrastructure, modernise apprenticeship provision and progress the digital agenda
- €15m will support minor capital works and equipment for higher education institutions
Collins added that 50,000 further education and training places will be rolled out between 2020 and 2021. Later this year, the Government will also publish an Apprenticeship Action Plan.
“Now more than ever, we need to ensure there are no barriers to people accessing education or the workforce,” he said.