I thank Deputy Durkan for this important question. I thank him also for the time we spent yesterday in Celbridge and Maynooth viewing further education and higher education facilities. I very much enjoyed it, though he still has not given us the winning lotto numbers.
Ireland has developed a national skills system across further and higher education and apprenticeships, lifelong learning and human capital development under the framework of the national skills strategy and underpinned by strong partnership with key stakeholders. It is firmly focused on responding in an agile and flexible way to priority skills needs and to changes in the world of work driven by technology to ensure that Ireland has a skilled and productive workforce. This skills system, which includes the National Skills Council, the regional skills forums and the skills analysis and forecasting bodies, fosters engagement, dialogue and collaboration with key stakeholders on skills issues. This skills infrastructure informs and drives responsive and flexible forecasting, planning and provision to meet the skills required in the workplace across all sectors of the economy.
My Department's statement of strategy identifies a number of areas for special attention and on which significant work has been undertaken, including, for example, inclusion, alignment of our tertiary education system between further and higher education, apprenticeships and digital literacy. Additionally, our skills policies continue to observe and take into account major trends impacting the labour market, including population ageing, automation, and digitisation and climate action.
As for the requirement for graduates equipped for technical roles in our workforce, I am pleased to say that enrolment on STEM-related higher education courses has increased by 14% since 2014, from 59,000 students to 67,400 students. Importantly, the number of students graduating from these STEM-related courses has gone up by 29%, from 16,500 in 2014 to 21,300 in 2020.
In addition, two key initiatives now in place in higher education, the Springboard+ programme and the human capital initiative, are designed to meet identified technical skills needs across all sectors of our economy. These initiatives provide subsidised places on a broad range of courses in engineering, ICT and science.