Thursday, 14 July 2022
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Education
The main support to students attending higher education is the Student Grant Scheme. Under the Student Grant Scheme, eligible candidates may receive funding, provided they are attending an approved course at an approved institution and meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those which relate to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment (progression) and means.
Under the scheme, students must be attending approved full-time courses. All full-time undergraduate and post-graduate students who meet the criteria under the Student Grant Scheme are in receipt of a grant.
To date, the average spend per student in the 2021/22 academic year is €4,200. This includes maintenance, fees, student contribution or both depending on the award granted to the student.
Please note this figure may change as processing for 2021/22 is ongoing.
634. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated increase required to the income threshold for the SUSI bracket no maintenance 50% tuition fees or 100% student contribution to expand the number of recipients receiving support by €1,000, €5,000 and €10,000 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39365/22]
635. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated increase required to the income threshold for the SUSI bracket no maintenance, 50% student contribution to expand the number of recipients receiving support by €1,000, €5,000 and €10,000 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39366/22]
636. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the maintenance grant associated with non-adjacent 25% maintenance by €50; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39367/22]
637. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the maintenance grant associated with adjacent 75% maintenance by €22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39368/22]
638. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the maintenance grant associated with adjacent 50% maintenance by €50; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39369/22]
639. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the maintenance grant associated with adjacent 25% maintenance by €50; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39370/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 634, 635, 636, 637, 638 and 639 together.
The details requested by the Deputy for PQ numbers 39367, 39368, 39369 and 39370 are in the table linked below.
Due to the complex nature of the request in PQ’s 39365 and 39366, I am advised that SUSI, who are the awarding authority require some additional time to review and provide the information requested by the Deputy. They will endeavour to supply this directly to the Deputy in the coming weeks.
640. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he has carried out an analysis of the required number of qualified graduates that will be needed to facilitate the offshore renewable energy sector; the results of such an analysis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39494/22]
Current skills provision in this area covers the entire tertiary education system.
A dynamic and evolving economy will always have skills demands and challenges. Our imperative is to ensure agility and responsiveness in the skills ecosystem. Through 2022 Ireland, in partnership with the OECD, is reviewing Ireland’s skills strategies, policies and approaches to help us ensure that our skills system is future proofed. A core objective for my Department is to ensure that individuals and businesses are offered supports and pathways to quality education, upskilling and reskilling opportunities.
The National Training Fund supports initiatives including:
- Skills to Advanceis an employee development policy framework which enables targeted support for vulnerable groups in the Irish workforce;
- Skills to Competeare a range of programmes to respond to the need for activation, upskilling and reskilling;
- Springboard+provides free and subsidised upskilling and reskilling higher education opportunities in areas of identified skills need;
- Human Capital Initiative (HCI)range of programmes which seek to ensure that the higher education system as a whole responds to the constantly evolving skills needs of the economy;
- Skillnet Irelandprovides subsidised training to business through learning networks operating nationwide and across all sectors.
The Green Tech Skillnet provides training opportunities in wind energy both for those working in the industry and for people looking to enter the wind industry. The Green Tech Skillnet is an enterprise-led network facilitating the workforce and development needs of the Irish renewable energy industry. It is promoted by Wind Energy Ireland (WEI), the representative body for the Irish wind industry, working to promote wind energy as an essential, economical and environmentally friendly part of the country’s low-carbon energy future. A number of renewable energy programmes are funded under HCI and Springboard+, among other Green Skills courses. This includes: a Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Energy Systems at DCU; a Postgraduate Diploma in Wind Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology; Certificate in Energy Sustainability at South East Technological University; and MEng in Energy Infrastructure at Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest.
Sustainable green skills are embedded in the Further Education and Training Strategy, which provides that climate change and sustainable development are key components of Further Education and Training (FET) processes. FET will continue to contribute to the Government’s call of action to prioritise energy, building and the environment in its processes.
It is envisaged that the SOLAS Green Skills Action Plan will contribute to clean technologies and the acceleration of the use of renewables. It will contribute to a greater awareness of energy efficiency and the benefits of retrofitting both public and private buildings. The key skills areas to be addressed will include as follows:
- Creation of awareness of the Green Agenda through education;
- Increase of capacity in this area;
- Training and upskilling, which will contribute to green transition.
Currently, a number of ‘Green Cert’ training courses are being delivered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs). A ‘Green Cert’ training course refers to a list of land-based courses, which provides qualifications in Horticulture; Agriculture; Forestry or EquineStudies. Upon completion of the Green Cert training course, a qualified person will meet the requirements of a qualified farmer for the purposes of all Revenue and Department of Agriculture (DAFM) schemes. In 2021, there were 600 Learner Enrolments registered on ETB Green Cert training courses.
In May 2021, an agreement was reached on a pilot project to be launched this year between the Campus des métiers et des qualifications d’excellence international normand des énergies (CEINE), Dublin & Dun Laoghaire ETB, Kerry ETB, Laois Offaly ETB, Limerick & Clare ETB and Cavan & Monaghan ETB. These organisations will seek to build on their shared expertise in the field of Green Technologies Skills. ETB Further Education & Training will have a primary role in ensuring that Ireland’s workforce has the required skills to meet its ambitious energy targets. LOETB has attended two meetings on the pilot for Green Technology Skills CEINE to date. The most recent meeting took place in October 2021 and it was agreed that the initial focus of the Programme would be on offshore wind turbine maintenance in conjunction with Kerry ETB. Other programmes of interest to LOETB, which were referenced at the meeting as potential "start points" of French-Irish cooperation include: Digital Technologies; Sustainable Agriculture and the transition from Peat to Renewable Energy, to name but a few.
The Wind Turbine Maintenance Technician (WTMT) Apprenticeship was launched in March 2022. Kerry ETB is the coordinating provider for the apprenticeship. It is estimated that there will be in the region of 18 registrations by year end. It will run for a duration of 3 years and is offered at Level 6 on the NFQ. The rationale for this apprenticeship is that there is no current apprenticeship which provides the range of knowledge, skills and competencies needed for the role of wind turbine maintenance technician. This Apprenticeship is for people who wish to pursue a career in the maintenance of large scale commercial wind turbines. It is designed to meet the needs of the growing Irish Renewable and Sustainable Energy sector. This apprenticeship will create a pathway into this career for school leavers or those who do not currently possess any relevant qualifications.
Kerry ETB recognised the shortage of training and education opportunities in this area, and in consultation with a number of employers implemented the highly successful wind turbine maintenance traineeship. This traineeship typically lasts 39 weeks and includes a minimum of 30 percent on-the-job training. Upon completion, trainees may receive a City and Guilds Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Electrical Power Engineering. This has been run in Kerry ETB’s training facility since 2014 with very high placement rates for trainees involved. However, the entry requirements for this traineeship require potential trainees to hold one of the following:
- Advanced Craft Certificate (Electrical)
- Advanced Craft Certificate (MAMF)
- Advanced Craft Certificate (Motor Mechanic)
- BEng with related work experience
The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications has established a cross-Departmental Offshore Wind Delivery Taskforce to drive delivery and capture wider and longer term economic and business opportunities associated with the development of offshore renewables in Ireland. This will include the identification of supporting infrastructure development and supply chain opportunities as Ireland’s offshore wind industry is developed.
A cross-departmental Offshore Wind Delivery Taskforce has been established to accelerate delivery of offshore wind actions and ensure alignment of activities in progress across Government. One of the key objectives of the Taskforce is to ensure the longer term economic and business opportunities associated with the development of offshore renewables are captured.
Ireland has an ambitious skills agenda driven out by an advanced system of skills provision, across Further and Higher Education, lifelong learning and human capital development, which is agile and responsive to changes in the world of work, in order to address evolving skills needs.