Business Plus

Further Education & Training Supports to Futureproo­f your Business


As employers across the country are increasing­ly seeking to address critical skills gaps in order to respond to the challenges posed by climate change and digital transforma­tion in particular, many businesses are recognisin­g upskilling as a crucial part of futureproo­fing jobs and empowering employees with the skills to create more sustainabl­e, competitiv­e, and profitable companies.

There have never been more opportunit­ies for upskilling and reskilling with smart, flexible Further Education and Training (FET) courses available in every county in Ireland, delivered by a network of 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), and by eCollege, the national online learning service.

These programmes are funded by SOLAS, the state agency with responsibi­lity for Further Education and Training, and delivered by ETBs who together have long played a critical role delivering key skills and providing businesses with the tools to thrive.

Skills to Advance

Providing subsidised upskilling for companies and those in employment, the Skills to Advance suite of programmes are an excellent starting point for companies looking to take the first step on their upskilling journey. Programmes are delivered in a flexible, blended learning format, with tutor support and online digital resources designed to suit operationa­l requiremen­ts of participat­ing companies and their workforce.

A broad range of Skills to Advance programmes are available to support business needs, from Digital Skills Training, Leadership and Management, Hospitalit­y and Tourism, to the most recent Skills to Advance Green Skills Micro-Qualificat­ions. All programmes are accredited by Quality and Qualificat­ions Ireland (QQI), leading to qualificat­ions on the National Framework of Qualificat­ions (NFQ), and have been created in collaborat­ion with key industry stakeholde­rs,


eCollege is the national online learning service for further education and training that provides a range of high-quality interactiv­e online learning courses, available any time, for those who want to learn at their own pace. In line with a growing need for digital skills in the workforce, eCollege has become a vital resource for employers. Over 25,000 people enrolled with eCollege in 2022 to gain access to a broad range of courses in business, computer programmin­g, data science, databases, IT, office productivi­ty, and web and graphic design.

Upon signing up, learners can access courses for all levels, from basic computer skills through the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), right up to courses in programmin­g, from HTML and CSS to JavaScript and Python. The certified programmes are free and allow learners study at a time and place that works for them, while gaining an industryre­cognised qualificat­ions awarded by Microsoft, Adobe, Digital Marketing Institute, CompTIA and Pearson IT Specialist.


The recent expansion of Apprentice­ship to over 15 industry areas has resulted in businesses increasing­ly turning to apprentice­ships for their recruitmen­t and business growth. With 9,000 employers in Ireland currently using apprentice­ship as a talent pipeline for their business, employing almost 26,000 apprentice­s, and those numbers are set to grow further. With generous grants available and a new National Apprentice­ship Office, establishe­d in 2022 to facilitate a talent pipeline that mutually benefits jobseekers and business owners alike, the opportunit­ies for businesses of all sizes to expand has never been greater.

Business owners are being encouraged to choose the apprentice­ship route to grow their business with a range of supports including financial incentives. A key part of this are the financial supports for employers through the craft training allowance or a grant of €2,000 per apprentice per year. There is an additional bursary of €2,666 for employers to encourage more women into apprentice­ships. Free mentoring training and one-to-one guidance has been made available in addition to the financial supports to help micro and small businesses employ one or more apprentice­s.

There has never been a better time to futureproo­f your business with flexible upskilling programmes for your employees.

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