The recently completed “Skills Strategy Ireland: Assessment and Recommendations” report, carried out by the OECD, suggests that Ireland has entered a crucial juncture in relation to upskilling and professional training.
Indeed, with the advent of AI and the ever-increasing march of technological progress, it has never been more pertinent for the companies to upskill and reskill their workforces to ensure that they remain at the leading edge of technology and maximise their competitive advantage.
The benefits of upskilling do not solely rest with employers. Taking a lifelong learning approach to skill development will allow individuals keep up with current demands of the modern workplace while also future proofing their careers in the face of change.
How do companies go about enacting the necessary training to ensure consistent staff development and plug any skill shortages? What avenues are best suited to individual up or reskilling?
One answer is through Micro-credentials.
Micro-credential courses offer a level of flexibility that allows learners and organisations to effectively address specific skills needs through programmes that are designed, validated, and approved by academics and industry experts in a way that suits both the employee and the employer.
To quote Simon Harris, Ireland’s Minister for Further and Higher Education, “Microcredentials represent a fundamental shift in our approach to education and training. They recognise that, in an ever-changing world, learners, employees and employers need to be able to keep up with the demands of the modern workplace.”
The Irish Government is currently examining an eye watering €1.5 billion surplus associated with the National Training Fund (NTF). The OECD report, mentioned above, advises that a significant portion of this surplus be allocated to the training and upskilling of people whose roles are likely to be impacted by the ongoing technological advances while also improving incentives for employers to take advantage of education and training.
Minister Harris has revealed that his department plans to collaborate with the Department of Enterprise in order to secure additional funding that would prove “transformational”. At the moment, however, Government departments are reviewing options for tapping into the surplus and have requested submissions from education providers and employers on how these funds could be used most effectively.