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Ministers Harris and Collins outline details of new Skills package as part of Budget 2021

-50,000 places for upskilling and reskilling opportunities – an increase of 10,000 places;

-Expansion of retrofitting skills programmes to support the national retrofitting programme;

-A new climate action upskilling scheme for businesses;

-1,000 apprentices taken on through the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme and extension for the first half of 2021


Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins TD have today (October 15th) confirmed the details of a €118 million Skills package as part of Budget 2021.


The package will extend the Apprentice Incentivisation Scheme until mid-2021 due to success of initiative this year, expansion of retrofitting skills development and a new climate action upskilling scheme.


Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

Covid-19 has upended all our lives. While the challenges the crisis presented are unprecedented, they also open up unique opportunities for us.

In this week’s Budget, we secured a package of €118 million to help thousands of you reskill and retrain in areas where we need more workers or where there is potential for future employment.

One area we will focus on is the area of apprenticeship. To date, over 630 companies have applied for payments supporting the recruitment of over 1,100 apprentices. Budget 2021 allows us to extend the incentive payment to mid-2021, which will be a significant boost to businesses. 

We have also secured funding to expand training courses in retrofit skills to 1,500 people per annum.  We will extend programmes to include 500 places for people in search of employment in this developing area as well as providing more places for people in the construction sector. We will also develop five centres of excellence in Waterford-Wexford, Cork, Limerick-Clare, Mayo-Sligo and Leitrim, and Laois-Offaly Education and Training Boards (ETBs), with potential for additional Dublin and Galway facilities.

 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for businesses and people with us all having to adapt to new ways of working.  We will also roll out a new climate action upskilling scheme through Skillnet Ireland.  Skillnet programmes are industry led. Courses will be designed by industry, for industry and will give businesses the skills to adapt to a sustainable, low carbon economy.


Minister Collins added:

I am delighted we have been able to fund these exciting initiatives in the Budget – particularly the continuation of supports for 19,000 learners and securing funding for an additional 2,000 learners in 2021 under the ‘Skills to Complete’ banner – targeting supports to those who have had their jobs impacted by Covid-19.

In the area of apprentices. Minister Harris and I are developing a new Action Plan for Apprenticeship but the scheme has offered a lifeline to many businesses seeking to take on apprentices and security for the apprentice.

SOLAS have also moved to simplify employer access to apprenticeship through a relaunched website at where employers can find information on participating in apprenticeship or, indeed, discover how to kick-off the development of new apprenticeship programmes.

The package we have secured as part of Budget 2021 will allow people earn and learn and will ensure businesses are protected in this time of great challenge. Covid, Brexit and the uncertainty both bring mean businesses and people must continuously transform and modify and we will continue to support them.