Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (206)

Jonathan O'Brien


206. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many highly skilled immigrants work below their skill-set or are unemployed as a result of a limited number of conversion courses available to upgrade qualifications to the Irish standard; his plans to increase the number of conversion courses and eligibility for advanced entry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5063/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Where immigrants wish to take up employment in a profession which is regulated in the State, and where a particular qualification requirement applies to that profession, it would, in the first instance, be the responsibility of the regulatory body concerned to identify any shortfall in qualifications. Under Directive 2005/36, which governs the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU, where the migrant is an EU citizen and has been established in the same profession in another Member State, then they would be entitled to make up the shortfall by way of a compensation measure, which can take the form of an aptitude test or a period of adaptation. Therefore there would be no requirement for the migrant to undertake a conversion course. More generally, providers of education and training have flexibility in recognising the prior learning of individuals who wish to upgrade their skills. This allows providers to take into account the experience and prior studies of applicants and give relevant exemptions where possible, without having to put in place specific conversion courses.

In addition, since 2011 the Department has introduced a number of targeted initiatives aimed at addressing the skills needs of employers and supporting jobseekers into employment. The Springboard programme, for example, provides part time higher education places for unemployed people in areas of identified skills needs. Reskilling and conversion courses are also available through the Momentum and ICT skills conversion programmes. It is open to all jobseekers who fulfil the eligibility criteria to apply for a place under these programmes. New rounds of Springboard, ICT skills conversion and Momentum programmes are due to be launched in 2014. Information on the courses and number of places to be provided will be available following completion of the competitive tendering processes.