Taoiseach Leo Vradakar was in Trinity this morning to launch the government’s “Human Capital Initiative”, a fund of €300m to be invested over 5 years in higher education.
The investment is intended to help to develop new undergraduate places and new conversion courses for graduates, to meet identified areas of skills needs in today’s workforce. The finance is being provided from the surplus in the National Training Fund (NTF), a levy on employers.
The fund was launched at the Future Jobs Summit, currently being held in Trinity’s Tangent Centre.
Tangent is Trinity’s programme to support business start-ups, announcing in September that they will invest €6 million in the projects of aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs by 2020. Speaking at a launch earlier this year, Provost Patrick Prendergast stated that entrepreneurship was at the centre of Trinity’s education mission. A large proportion of the money is being supplied by Tangent’s main sponsor, Bank of Ireland.
Launching the Human Capital Initiative, the Taoiseach stated: “The world is changing fast. Technology continues to herald new ways of doing business and new economic opportunities. It is not only the types of jobs that will be changing, but the way that we work.”
Vradakar added: “Future Jobs Ireland ensures that as our economy changes, and traditional industries and practices are disrupted, workers and enterprises are able to transition successfully. If we adapt now, our enterprises can stay competitive and our society resilient. If we don’t then we will quickly fall behind.”
He was joined by Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan.
Minister McHugh said: “The Future Jobs Summit is the right place to flag the new €300 million investment fund for higher education. The money will help colleges and universities to develop new undergraduate places, as well as create conversion courses to help graduates find the right career path.”
He also added that a fund of this scale will support colleges and universities to be more innovative. He claims it is an investment in people and skills for the future.
Welcoming the third level investment through the HCI, Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated that this funding is great news for students and colleges.
She added: “This investment will support our institutions to address the skills needs of the economy, future proof graduates and ensure that there is a greater focus across the whole spectrum of higher education courses on promoting and embedding the key skills that employers will value in future.”
She also claimed that this investment is aimed to contribute to mitigation of Brexit risks, promote regional development and strengthen relationships between the higher education sector and enterprise.