Thursday, 8 July 2021

Questions (79)

Violet-Anne Wynne


79. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if he will consider establishing an engineering certification in the Ennis campus of Limerick Institute of Technology in order to provide qualified engineers which will be needed in the region in the close future with the development of green energy infrastructure such as green Atlantic at Moneypoint project. [36526/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Higher education Institutions (HEIs) are autonomous and determine themselves which courses will be offered. In addition, targeted skills initiatives including Springboard+, the Human Capital Initiative and July Stimulus Modular provision provide for courses in areas of identified skills needs, including courses in relation to engineering and renewable energy.

Under the July Stimulus package, funding of €15m provided 11,597 places on 538 Modular courses in 32 higher education institutions in 2020. A further 4,119 places are being made available on these courses in 2021. All courses are shorter and more focused and offered in a flexible manner, allowing people to gain important skills without taking a considerable period away from the labour market. They represent a new route into lifelong learning, and provide upskilling and reskilling opportunities for those who need it, while ensuring that they remain close to the labour market. There are 2 courses provided in renewable energy.

There is a combined total of 13,444 places on 408 courses available in the 2021/22 academic year under Springboard+ 2021 and HCI Pillar 1.

Springboard+ 2021 courses are at Level 6 (Certificate) to Level 9 (Masters) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are delivered by public and private higher education providers around the country. All courses provide job-readiness training and most offer the opportunity for work placement, project-based learning or industry site visits where appropriate. All courses approved for funding under Springboard+ 2021 were selected by an independent panel with experts from industry and education following a competitive tendering process.

There are 14 courses in renewable energy under Springboard+ 2021. Under HCI Pillar 1, there are 18 courses in renewable energy and engineering.

Pillar 3 of the HCI is an innovation and agility fund that commands a total budget of €197 million over a five-year period. It will deliver 22 projects in higher education institutions. Through the projects recommended under this pillar, it is intended that innovative methods of teaching and delivery will be promoted, so that learners will benefit from improved quality and more engaging ways of learning on enterprise-focused courses. The capacity of institutions to anticipate, understand and respond to emerging skills needs of enterprise will be increased, together with the ability of institutions to provide lifelong learning and upskilling opportunities for all. As part of the projects under this pillar, 28 courses in engineering and renewable energy are being developed.