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National Training Fund

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 4 July 2017

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Ceisteanna (157)

Thomas Byrne


157. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that in every year since its establishment except for 2012 and 2014 there was an annual surplus in the National Training Fund, including in years with very significant increases in unemployment and training needs of the population; his further views on whether the size of the accumulated surplus of the fund and the fact that it is not even used in times of high unemployment indicates that the fund is not being well managed and used appropriately to fund national training needs; and the rationale for having such a large surplus in the fund when it is not used during times of national employment crisis. [30875/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The amount collected through the National Training Fund levy has varied over the last number of years due to increases and more recently decreases in unemployment levels.  Receipts went from a high of €413m in 2008 to €299m in 2012 and have increased to €364m in 2015 and €390m in 2016 reflecting the continued improvement in employment levels in recent years.

The accumulated surplus in the fund has been critical in maintaining expenditure levels, particularly in the provision of training for the unemployed, in the years when receipts were falling.  It is considered prudent to continue to maintain an adequate surplus in the Fund to meet demand in future years and it should be noted that, while the current surplus of €232 million represents a very significant sum, it would only cover 9 months NTF expenditure at current levels. A total of €362 million has been available annually over the last number of years from the NTF for training for employed and unemployed people. In 2017, funding of €366 million will be provided for training activities from the NTF.

While the NTF does not form part of the Vote of the Department of Education and Skills (DES), the allocation for each scheme is determined as part of the annual Estimates process. The NTF is included as an annex to the published Estimates of the Department and such funding is included in the overall expenditure ceiling for DES since 2011.  This means that overall expenditure from the Fund cannot be increased, even where receipts increase, without a corresponding drop in voted expenditure. The surplus remains available for investment in education and training programmes to meet skills needs.

I am reviewing the allocation of funding to programmes in the Further Education and Training and Higher Education sectors as between NTF and Exchequer sources in terms both of the emphasis required on training for employment and training persons in employment and of satisfying the needs of enterprise to meet strategic skills requirements. One objective of this review is to direct NTF allocations in a manner that best reflects enterprise priorities as identified through the revised national skills architecture.