Ministers endorse ‘Amarach’ survey that 9/10 people want to upskill

by Rose Barrett
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Further training is beneficial for mental wellbeing and career support

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Niall Collins, Minister of State for Skills and Further Education today welcomed new research which revealed nine out of ten people want to learn a new skill in the near future.

The EU Year of Skills was launched in Ireland by Ministers Harris and Collins in May with a call to action for everyone in the country to put skills at the centre for this year – and to take the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “We have an incredibly educated and highly skilled population in Ireland, but we can no longer treat knowledge as a fixed asset – nor can we assume that what we learned in three or four years of study is sufficient to last a lifetime.

“Today is about telling people of all ages and all backgrounds that there are countless opportunities available in this country to learn a new skill.

Minmister Simon Harris at the launch of EU Year of Skills with Skillnet Ireland Photo: Peter Houlihan

“The world is changing at a rapid pace and it means skills have a shorter shelf life than ever before. So yes, I’m determined to drive the skills agenda in order to help support the economy, and what the research carried out last week by Amárach also shows is that the benefits of lifelong learning go well beyond a monetary value.

“Learning a new skill, pursuing a passion, or taking on a course you always wanted to do improves for your self-confidence and mental well-being.

“So, today I am again issuing a rallying call for us to this year collectively rise to the challenge of arming ourselves with new skills, for everyone to take advantage of all the opportunities available, and help drive both our economy and societal wellbeing.”

The launch of the EU Year of Skills in May coincided with the publication of the OECD Ireland Skills Strategy Report, which found participation in lifelong learning here, while above the EU average, falls far behind the top performers.

However, research carried out by Amárach in the past week, found that while almost half of people reported learning a new skill since the beginning of the year, almost nine out of ten would like to learn one in the near future.

Some of the keys findings of the research included:

  • Of those who have recently learned a new skill, 90% said it improved their mental health and made them feel more confident, while 62% said they did it to develop themselves as a person.
  • Almost one in four people are only slightly confident they have the skills to advance in their current jobs, and only one in five are very confident they have the skills for the job they want in the next five years.
  • Self-development is the main motivation for learning a new skill (62%), followed by interest in the subject (45%), and to improve health and wellbeing (39%).
  • Just over half (55%) have made new friends on a course, and a similar number (51%) said it inspired their friends and family to learn new skills. For almost two-fifths (39%), leaning a new skill has enabled them to earn more money.

Reskilling vital for growing digital and green economy

Minister Niall Collins Photo: Sasko Lazorov/RollingNews.ie

Minister Collins said: “Funding is available to support a wide range of upskilling and reskilling initiatives that meet the demands of a changing world, address skills shortages and contribute to the digital and green economy.

“We have also seen what learning a new skill can do for someone’s confidence and feeling of self-worth. So if it’s reskilling for a new career, upskilling for your current role, or simply pursuing a hobby that you were always passionate about, I would encourage everyone to take on a fresh challenge this year.”

Part and full time courses are available through ETBs across Ireland, while Skillnet Ireland programmes are developed by business, for business, with over 23,500 companies of all sizes benefitting from upskilling programmes each year.

Nessa White, Executive Director of Transformation at SOLAS, the Further Education & Training Authority, said: “Learning a new skill is easier than you think. The benefits of lifelong learning are endless, with the FET sector playing a crucial role in equipping learners with the skills to reach their full potential.

“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, and by eCollege, the national online learning service.

“FET is for everyone. It is available in every community in Ireland, and offers every individual, regardless of any previous level of education, a pathway to take them as far as they want to go. During European Year of Skills 2023, we encourage everyone to take a look at the opportunities to learn a new skill in their local community.”

Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive Paul Healy said: “At Skillnet Ireland we are partnering with businesses to bring solutions to the skills gaps they experience, and in areas that are vital for every firm, such as innovation, digitalisation, and the green transition.   

“This is driving business success but also allowing employers to cater for the individual needs of their people, giving them an opportunity to attain 21st century skills and to build career paths.”

Feature image Pixabay

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