Fee support for 14,000 higher education places for workers affected by Covid-19

Fee support for 14,000 higher education places for workers affected by Covid-19
Simon Harris (Julian Behal Photography/PA)

More than 14,000 higher education places will be made available with no fees or subsidised fees to help workers affected by Covid-19.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris announced 30 million euro of funding for part-time and post-graduate places.

He said the courses would form a further response to the impacts of the global pandemic and will allow people to take new pathways in their employment.

The funding has been approved under the Government’s Jobs Stimulus package.

Almost 12,000 places will be available on short modular courses, and there will be 2,555 postgraduate places.

Mr Harris said the courses would provide upskilling and reskilling for people who have been most affected by the pandemic and would ensure 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,” he said.

“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 (small and medium-sized enterprises) supports centre stage. This is a crucial part of the jigsaw.”

Modular courses are short, focused and flexible, allowing people to gain important skills without taking a long period away from the labour market.

The Wicklow TD 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.”

The postgraduate courses will be available on 207 existing courses in 23 public and private higher education institutions.

Courses will be open to returners to the workforce, those in employment and recent graduates.

All participants, with the exception of returners, will contribute 10% of the course cost.

People who receive social welfare payments, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, will be eligible for part-time courses free of charge.

Eligible participants must have at least a level eight qualification or equivalent before acceptance on a course.

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