Further Education And Training Sector Supporting Business

29 Jun 2020 | 03.14 pm

Further Education And Training Sector Supporting Business

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29 Jun 2020 | 03.14 pm

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The Further Education and Training sector is responding to the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic and providing support to businesses during this difficult period

The sudden and potentially catastrophic onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic is already having an adverse effect on the Irish economy, meaning solutions and pathways to recovery for businesses are more important than ever. Our world post-COVID will be radically different, which means we need new ways of working, new skillsets, and new approaches to the jobs we already do.

The Further Education and Training (FET) sector is perfectly placed to respond to the damage done by this crisis, and to leverage the opportunities presented around the future world of work.

SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) have long played a critical role in labour market activation and in upskilling and reskilling people in response to economic downturns. It is critical that the FET sector, together with partners across the wider tertiary education system, respond to the large base of people now experiencing unemployment as a result of COVID-19, as well as assisting employers as they work to keep businesses open. FET can provide the education, training and support that many will require to re-enter employment, and to support businesses during this difficult period.

FET Sector Response

A number of initiatives have already been put in place by the FET sector in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Very early on, eCollege, with its large portfolio of online courses was opened up, free of charge, to everybody in the country. The initiative has already seen incredible demand, with a 20-fold increase in the first 12 days of its launch.

eCollege is also a vital resource for employers, and later this year there are plans to outline the portfolio of upskilling courses that will help employers respond to digital transformation, as well as the current crisis.

In addition to eCollege, SOLAS and Education and Training Boards are working closely to transition all learning and training programmes online. Responding quickly to the pandemic, new and innovative courses have been developed and delivered online, including a new course in infection control, which prepares people to support healthcare efforts in tackling COVID-19, with 220 enrolments for that course within only a few days of launching.

Skills to Compete

Additionally, the Skills to Advance initiative is poised to be launched by SOLAS and ETBs. This targeted initiative has the potential for an immediate and powerful labour-market activation response to provide recently unemployed people with the skills to support their re-entry into sustainable work. The FET sector understand the future of work and can provide short, bespoke upskilling responses to the situation at hand and work with businesses to develop the courses needed to upskill staff.

There will, of course, be a time of transition and uncertainty in the wake of the current crisis. In any economic challenge or recessionary period, there are structural changes. For example, remote working now means that there will be new and different ways of running businesses, with a base of employees who will need upskilling in terms of digital skills.

Structural Changes

According to Andrew Brownlee, Chief Executive Officer of SOLAS: “Ireland has a very strong FET sector that can work in partnership with employers and businesses to support the structural changes that need to be made in the digital transformation process, and to make sure they have access to the workforce of tomorrow that will help them get back on track and plan for an exciting future.”

In these times of unprecedented disruption to normal life, it is imperative that measures of continuity are maintained where possible, and that those affected by the pandemic are reassured that plans are in place to support their needs. SOLAS, ETBS, and their partners are working hard to support employees, businesses, and Ireland through these testing times.

 

Pictured: Andrew Brownlee, CEO, SOLAS

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