Over €415 million will be invested in various programmes and schemes from the National Training Fund in 2018, the government announced today.
The National Training Fund, which comes from a recently increased 0.8 per cent levy on employers, funds upskilling and apprenticeship courses. The size of the fund has increased by €49 million since last year.
The fund will see €182.5 million allocated throughout the year to Education and Training programmes to train people for employment, with €37 million going to “labour market focused higher education”.
The fund will also see €122 million invested in apprenticeships, with a combined €52 million of investment in Springboard and Skillnet courses. The government aims to increase the number of apprenticeship and Springboard participants by 1,500, while also creating an additional 5,000 spaces under the Skillnet programme in 2018.
In a press statement, the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton said: “The increase in the NTF levy in budget 2018 allows for increased investment in training and upskilling across further education and higher education to help grow productivity, improve competitiveness and create high quality career pathways.”
An ongoing review of the fund, expected to be completed prior to Budget 2019, has so far indicated that employers will have more say in the allocation of the fund in exchange for the incremental increase in the levy. Budget 2018 got a muted response from college staff and students for the scant mention of large-scale funding for the ailing sector.
In a press statement, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said: “This report highlights the capacity of the NTF to contribute to funding reform in the Higher Education Sector with a move to fund mainstream labour market focused higher education programmes that are producing graduates to meet identified areas of skill need.”
This increase in the National Training Fund levy was recommended by the report of the government’s higher education funding working group, published in July 2016, but it has faced criticism in light of the growing influence of employers in the third-level sector.