Adult learners in a classroom using laptops.
Image: © Gorodenkoff/

What are micro-qualifications?

16 Jan 2024

The Government has launched 24 programmes that will be delivered through education and training boards at little or no cost to employers.

The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has introduced a new phrase to Irish learners’ lexicon: micro-qualifications.

Similar to micro-credentials, this education initiative was launched last year to encourage people of all ages to take short, skills-focused courses. The idea is that courses are delivered flexibly and easily available to employees.

Obviously, the Government is a fan of the ‘micro’ format (and prefix) because they have decided to use it again for this latest education-related launch.

Semantics aside, the 24 new micro-qualifications are skills programmes to be delivered by Ireland’s network of local education and training boards (ETBs). There are 16 of those across the country, so courses will be available in a lot of different locales.

The courses have been developed by industry and are aimed at employees with little or no cost to employers. Organisations involved in their development include Solas, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Irish Water, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Regional Skills Fora.

Like micro-credentials, which are provided by third-level institutions, micro-qualifications are intended to address current skills gaps in areas such as sustainability, digital, advanced manufacturing, robotics, aquaculture, business innovation and market development.

“Targeted initiatives such as these micro-qualifications are delivering for employees and employers, both in supporting them to excel in their chosen fields, while also addressing Ireland’s critical skills gaps,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD.

Micro-qualifications are fully accredited and can lead to a maximum of Level 4,5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Solas chief executive Andrew Brownlee said the courses will “ensure that enterprise remains responsive to meet the rapidly changing world of work, advances in technology and our commitments to tackling climate change”.

“This ground-breaking nationwide provision of short stackable FET micro-qualifications through the ETB network will deliver fully accredited upskilling opportunities at local level across the country, empowering learners to flourish in their chosen careers while upskilling staff in line with future business needs.”

Brownlee also remarked that, “The days of doing a block of education from age 18 to 21 that will serve you throughout your chosen vocation are gone – this initiative reflects the need for a dip in, dip out education and training system that facilitates the continual upskilling and reskilling now required throughout lifetimes and careers.”

More information on the micro-qualifications that are available can be found by contacting your local ETB here.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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