Skills to Advance - Ireland
The 'Skills to Advance' Programme in Ireland is a national initiative, which offers upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees in sectors and areas affected by the digital transformation. The programme also support employees in vulnerable sectors and people lagging behind because of the increased use and application of digital technologies throughout the world of work. Effectively, Skills to Advance aims to equip employees with the skills they need to progress in their current role or to adapt to the changing labour market.
The Skills to Advance programme is ran by SOLAS, a national agency of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science of the Government of Ireland. Funding comes from the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science from the National Training Fund.
Background and objectives
The aim of 'Skills to Advance' is to provide support for vulnerable groups within the Irish labour force: those with little or no digital skills, who now find themselves in need of new skills to progress and perform their job to the best of their ability.
The programme works also by helping employers identify potential gaps within their business and supports them in preparing for changes. Upskilling and reskilling opportunities are subsidised and aim to improve business productivity and help SMEs remain competitive in a fast-changing business sector. The programme is delivered by the 16Education and Training Boards in Ireland.
Why is this a good practice?
The Irish initiative was successful in providing a framework to support both employees and employers in their goals, and improve the overall quality and provision of digital skills training within Ireland. It offered a way for SMEs (who often struggle to invest and take part in projects due to lack of resources or staff, lagging behind innovation) to develop the skills employees need to adapt to the increased use of digital technologies in all sectors, and the changing nature of work.
The programme can also be highlighted for its accessibility and flexibility: the training programmes for employees is tailored to fit around diverse business hours, needs, and work schedules. It also supports adult education and lifelong learning: employees above the age of 50, who work in lower skilled job roles experiencing significant changes are linked to local Education and Training Boards for more tailored guidance.
With its public annual funding scheme, the initiative scores high in sustainability. It is also growing by continuous development of new training opportunities to support employees, employers, and SMEs. The programme supports and fits within the context of the Working Lives and Enterprise Growth in Ireland – 2018-2021 further education and training policy framework for skills development of people in employment.