The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D., the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. and the Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D. today published the National Training Fund Expenditure Report 2019.
The National Training Fund (NTF) was established by the National Training Fund Act 2000 to raise the skills of those in employment, to give jobseekers relevant skills and to facilitate lifelong learning.
The report shows how over €485 million is being invested in programmes in 2019 which meet the skill need of the economy, support unemployed people in their journey back to work and assist those in employment to acquire new skills. This includes the expansion of the apprenticeship and traineeship schemes, additional investment in Springboard and additional support to increase skills for those in employment through Skillnet Ireland.
The 2018 NTF allocations represented a major shift in the focus of expenditure from the Fund. Programmes were more tightly focused on labour market skill needs across higher education, further education and training and other partners. As this report shows, this shift has continued in 2019 and a number of steps have already been taken to align with the recommendations set out in a review of the Fund, published in August 2018. €485.6 million will be invested through the Fund in 2019 to support skills (up by €70m since 2018), including:
• €142 million for apprenticeships.
• €126.5 million to assist jobseekers into employment.
• €120 million for Enterprise-focused Higher Education.
• €34.5 million for Springboard courses.
• €28 million supporting Skillnet Ireland in meeting skills gaps in the economy.
• €11 million for a new SOLAS/ETB framework to upskill lower skilled workers and support SMEs.
This additional investment will see us expand apprenticeship registrations by 1,200, increase the number of trainees by 1,100, Springboard participants by 1,100, and Skillnet participants by 7,400.
Following a consultation process, the Government, as part of Budget 2018, decided to raise the rate of the National Training Fund levy by 0.1% in 2018 to 0.8% and by a further 0.1% in both 2019 and 2020 on the basis of the implementation of planned reforms. The independent review of the National Training Fund, undertaken by Indecon Consulting, examined the existing operation of the NTF and provided recommendations to inform its future direction.
There are 14 recommendations across the following 4 key areas:
• Reform of the future direction of the NTF.
• Utilising the NTF to support investment in Higher Education.
• Enhancing enterprise engagement and input to NTF priorities.
• Improvements in monitoring/evaluation of the NTF.
An Implementation Plan to deliver these recommendations was published as part of Budget 2019 along with details of a new NTF advisory group to secure employer input into the strategic direction of the Fund by submitting recommendations to the National Skills Council on NTF priorities. The advisory group is being chaired by Mr Liam Ryan, Managing Director, SAP Labs Ireland and member of National Skills Council and includes representatives from the enterprise sector, government departments and agencies.
Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. said, “The publication of the National Training Fund Expenditure Report 2019 demonstrates my Department’s continued commitment to the ongoing reform of the Fund, including enhancing enterprise engagement and input.”
Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. said, “I welcome this report, which highlights the capacity of the NTF to contribute to funding reform in the Higher Education Sector with a move to fund mainstream enterprise focused higher education programmes that are producing graduates to meet identified areas of skill need.”
Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D. said, “The report shows the significant increased investment in apprenticeships and traineeships in order to meet our 2016 commitment to more than double the number of annual apprenticeship and traineeship enrolments to 14,000 by 2020 and to expand into a range of new areas.”
The report can be accessed on the Department for Education & Skills website at the following link: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/national-training-fund-expenditure-report-2019.pdf