Ireland to offer thousands of free digital skills courses and subsidised university places

People cross the tram tracks in Dublin City centre in Ireland on May 18, 2020, as Ireland cautiously begins to lift it's coronavirus lockdown.

By U2B Staff 

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The Ireland government is planning to unveil thousands of free upskilling courses for workers hit by unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis, under a  €100 million re-training package.

According to the Irish Times, government sources have said there will be 3,000 free upskilling courses provided in third-level institutions in smaller areas of study such as digital skills.

These skills will help to fill acute skills shortages in areas such as ICT, high-end manufacturing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence.

These free digital courses are aimed at those who have lost their jobs, looking for a career switch, or who are seeking to upskill or retrain in areas where there are skills gaps.

Thousands of free or subsidised third level and further education places will also be provided, as government sources said they will be over  7,000 subsidised course places available across universities and institutes of technology.

They will include 3,300 post-graduate courses aimed at new graduates or degree-holders who decide to return to education. Students will only be required to pay about 10 per cent – or €900 – of the normal €9,000 cost.

Additionally, employers who choose to hire an apprentice in key areas will be eligible for a €2,000 up-front payment, and a further €1,000 payment if they retain the apprentice after 12 months.


Earlier this month, University College Cork in Ireland announced that there will be over 500 free or subsidised places for some of their leading diploma and post-graduate courses in the coming months.

Southern Star reported, “Workers seeking to enhance their skills during the economic downturn have the chance to avail of up to a 90% subsidy on fees across a range of programmes in pharma, agriculture,
languages, software, sustainability, health and more.”

Prof John O’Halloran, UCC’s deputy president and registrar, said, “‘We want to help Ireland get back to work and these programmes are designed to meet skills shortages across Ireland’s economy and allow workers to upskill in what is a rapidly changing work landscape.”

A total of 254 places across six full-time programmes are being offered by the university, which include the following level 8 higher diploma programmes: sustainability in enterprise, meeting the challenges of the future, global software sales, support, and localisation, and design and production of biopharmaceuticals.

Plus, places will also be available in the following level 9 postgraduate diploma programmes: bioanalytical chemistry, innovation through design thinking, and pharmaceutical regulatory sciences.

UCC’s adult continuing education department is also offering 300 places across 12 part-time programmes are through level 7 certificates in environmental science, sustainability and climate, leadership for the agri-food sector, operator development (pharma manufacturing), process and chemical engineering, safety, health and welfare at work and supply chain management.

Level 8 options will include a certificate in procurement management and a higher diploma in advanced languages and global communication.

Lyndsey El Amoud,  assistant director of UCC adult continuing education, said: “These courses are a fantastic opportunity for people to re-energise their careers. They are part-time, flexible and, crucially, they are either free, or very affordable.”