The back-to-work, education and upskilling schemes will include financial incentives for employers taking on apprentices and unemployed people under the age of 30.
Today (24 July), the Government announced an investment of more than €200m in education and retraining packages to help people return to education and work “as quickly as possible” after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement follows the publication of the July stimulus package yesterday, in which extensions to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and Pandemic Unemployment Payment were outlined, among other measures.
The education and retraining plan was launched by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys, TD, and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD. It will provide more than 80,000 additional places for those who are unemployed because of Covid-19, with 35,500 places in the higher and further education sector and 45,500 new employment support places.
Details of the €200m package
Of the 35,500 higher and further education places, 19,000 will be managed through the Skills to Complete programme, helping unemployed people seeking work. This will help people who lost their jobs during the pandemic to reskill in “sustainable areas of employment”, including healthcare, childcare, e-commerce, software development and online sales.
There will also be 3,300 places available on one-year postgraduate courses in areas where there is a skills need. These will be geared towards new graduates as well as people who have a degree and want to return to education. Students will be charged 10pc of the typical fees prior to the pandemic to enrol.
According to the Irish Times, 3,000 shorter courses will also be provided by third-level institutes in more specific topics, such as digital skills, for people already working who don’t want to invest in a full-time course.
Moving past a ‘once and done’ approach
Employers will be offered financial incentives to hire new apprentices through the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme, with eligible employers due to receive an upfront payment of €2,000 for each apprentice. Companies still employing the apprentice after 12 months will receive another payment of €1,000.
Further unemployment supports will see the JobsPlus Subsidy Scheme give subsidies of up to €7,500 over two years for employers who take on people unemployed under the age of 30. A new work experience programme will be developed, alongside extensions to the Back to Work Enterprise and Back to Education allowances.
“Covid-19 has turned many of our lives upside down,” Harris said. “For some of us, the pandemic has resulted in a loss of employment and maybe the loss of a career path.
“The pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on younger workers and those in lower paid occupations. The pace of workplace change has also accelerated; digital skills are essential in almost all occupations.
“A ‘once and done’ approach to education and training is no longer enough. Upskilling, reskilling and refreshing of skills need to be supported throughout people’s working lives.”