Written answers

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Departmental Strategies

Photo of Christopher O'SullivanChristopher O'Sullivan (Cork South West, Fianna Fail)
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159. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the main policy initiatives undertaken by his Department since 27 June 2020; and his main priorities for 2021. [2086/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Since the establishment of the new Government, my Department has put in place a major funding package to support the higher and further education and training sector through the Covid crisis, including significant additional supports for individual students and learners.   We have significantly expanded training places to support people to reskill and upskill as part of the July Stimulus and built on this in Budget 2021 to provide 50,000 additional places overall with an enhanced focus on digital and green skills.  We have provided guidance for institutions to allow them plan how best to deliver learning during COVID-19 to protect public health.  We have launched the Further Education and Training Strategy to guide the development of the sector over coming years and secured Government approval to tender for a significant capital investment programme in the technological sector.  Progress on Technological universities has continued with the recent establishment of Munster TU and with significant advances for TU consortia in the South East, Midlands and Mid West area.  We have brought a new focus to student well-being and required institutions to audit how well they are doing on equality issues.

In 2021, my Department will publish a Statement of Strategy to lead the further, higher education, and research sectors to underpin future economic growth and social wellbeing.    We will continue to provide guidance in the ongoing safe management of public health across our institutions. We will provide key inputs to shape the new Climate Action Plan and agree a programme of investment as part of the National Development Plan to address development across our campuses, as well as critical investment in research.  We will consult widely as we develop a new national research and innovation strategy to succeed Innovation 2020.  We will publish a new Apprenticeship Action Plan, a new 10-year Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Literacy Strategy, and undertake a review of the SUSI scheme. We will bring forward legislation to reform Higher Education governance and provide clarity on a funding strategy for Higher Education. We will advance North/South co-operation and develop a strong regional network of Technological Universities supported by the National Skills Council and the regional skills fora. 

Our aim is to position Ireland globally as a knowledge economy, with a skills and innovation focus second to none.


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