Minister English’s Budget 2016 Speech

Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Budget 2016, Business, Education, I.T., Jobs, Meath, Research and Innovation, Skills, Speeches, Startups, Wesmeath

On Wednesday night 14th October I addressed the Dáil on Budget 2016:

This budget is designed to support the recovery, hard pressed families and begin future proofing the economy.

This budget is neither the hair shirt budget that some Economists have called for, nor is the silk shirt that the opposition seem to think we can afford, rather it is a prudent budget that will create jobs.

It will remove barriers to work and make work pay, grow the economy and keep the recovery going while reducing the current account deficit.

Business in Ireland has welcomed this budget. Danny McCoy of IBEC said “The budget is right for the economy at this time and signals a new phase of economic development. The crisis is behind us and we are planning ahead. The Government has taken on board the concerns of business, reduced tax and encouraged private investment.”

ISME and the SFA have also welcomed the Budget. The SFA Chairman, A J Noonan stated “This Budget is a strong endorsement by Government of the importance of entrepreneurship and small business in Ireland.”

But this is not just a budget for business and jobs, it is also a budget for our young families.

My constituency of Meath West has one of the highest concentrations of young families in the country, with a youth dependency ratio of over 38%.

You only have to walk around the streets of Navan, Trim or Enfield to see just how young our communities are. Our young population means we can look forward to a more hopeful future, but families cannot live on hope alone.

They need help now and this budget does just that.

Cutting USC, raising child benefit, and extending the free preschool scheme to accommodate all three to five year olds will benefit young families in Meath West and throughout the country.

These families endured a lot of the pain in the recession it is only right that they get some of the gain from the national recovery.

Talk to any parent on the doorsteps in Meath West – education and the future of our children is a major focus. This budget will reduce class sizes; it will recruit an additional 2,260 teachers.

This budget will deliver a better education to our children and will invest in career guidance. This will help our children chose the courses and the skills they need to get a good job and build a better future.

With this budget young school leavers will now have a lot more choice in their career paths.

We are investing an additional €10.5m to effectively double the number of Apprenticeship Schemes available in Ireland.

These 25 new Apprenticeship Schemes will cover areas such as

ICT,

Transport and Logistics,

Financial Services,

Tourism and Hospitality

and the bulk of these will be delivered in 2016.

We need to refocus the third level system to create a more enterprise responsive educational system; we need to provide the skills that students and industry require.

Future proofing the Economy is all about building skills at all levels including our pool of research skills.

Ireland’s future economic growth and prosperity will depend on our continued investment in science, technology and innovation.

This investment is all about developing:

A competitive knowledge based economy and society;

Driving innovation in enterprise;

Building human capital

And maximising the return on R&D investment for economic and social progress.

Investment in research and development is crucial for creating and maintaining high-value jobs.

In addition to the investment announced yesterday, my Department will be allocating an additional €29m specifically for investment in research and innovation to spend before the end of this year.

In addition to this, the overall 2016 capital investment will allow Enterprise Ireland to:

Support 100 Innovative High Potential start Up Companies in 2016 employing 2,000 people.

Issue six Competitive Start Fund calls with a target of financially supporting 85 innovative entrepreneurs.

Fund over 100 in-company R&D projects for companies that are valued in excess €100,000, and

Continue the development of Knowledge Transfer Ireland and the wider national Technology Transfer system to create 30 new spinout companies

For Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the 2016 allocation will:

Continue to fund the 12 SFI Research Centres, which represents an investment of €355m from the government and €190m from over 200 industry partners.

Train some 3000 researchers for key positions in Industry

Science Foundation Ireland will also undertake a recruitment campaign in partnership with the Irish Universities to attract world-class researchers.

I am pleased that Ireland’s participation in the European Space Agency (ESA) will continue to support a growing number of Irish companies in the rapidly expanding European and Global space markets. In this sector we will see:

A doubling of sales to over €80m

A rise in total employment to over 2,300, and

An expansion in the number of companies actively engaged with ESA to over 75

We are competing in an ever more competitive global environment. I am therefore pleased to report that work is almost complete on a new Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation.

It is now time for fresh strategic ideas to make research work to maximum effect for the country.

The vision for the new Strategy will be underpinned by 5 key goals:

an internationally competitive research system;

excellent research with relevance and impact for the economy and for society;

a renowned pool of talent in both academia and industry;

a joined-up research eco-system, responsive to emerging opportunities;

and a strong innovative enterprise base, growing employment, sales and exports.

We need to ensure that we have a world leading state-of-the-art research and innovation ecosystem in Ireland.

I am confident that the upcoming Strategy will provide us with the roadmap to deliver on this ambition for Ireland.

To conclude a Leas Ceann Comhairle,

This Budget charts a responsible, prudent path to fiscal stability, economic growth and opportunity.

The Budget marks a new stage in Ireland’s road to full recovery and a more sustainable future.

It will support that recovery and will begin to future proof the economy.

I commend this budget to the House and to the country.

Minister English welcomes €10.5 million for new Apprenticeships in Budget 2016

Apprenticeships, Jobs

The Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, has welcomed the provision of €10.5 million to expand the apprenticeship programme. The Government has, in Budget 2016, increased the National Training Fund allocation for apprenticeship from almost €50 million to over €60 million. This will allow for the development of new apprenticeship programmes and cater for increased registrations in existing trades.

Minister English said that “since my appointment, I have been committed to developing our apprenticeship system. We now have high quality proposals identified by the Apprenticeship Council in new areas such as ICT, Transport and Logistics, Financial Services and Tourism and Hospitality. This funding will allow for their development into new apprenticeships in 2016”.
He continued by stating that “Apprenticeship is an excellent route to a sustainable high quality career for young people as well as delivering highly skilled and job ready employees to meet the skill needs of industry. I am delighted that we are not just expanding apprenticeship into new areas but that registrations on existing programmes are continuing on an upward curve after a number of very difficult years”.
“The increase in registrations with employers for existing Apprenticeships which are up almost 20% in 2015 over 2014 are a clear vote of confidence in the future by both employers and young people. The Irish economy is now in recovery mode after many years of recession.” said Minister English “and investing in skills is one of the best things we can do to ensure we build a sustainable recovery and future proof the Irish economy.”
Minister English also welcomed that Budget 2016 will enable some 270,000 further education and training places to be delivered through SOLAS funding to the Education and Training Boards and through Skillnets.
The Minister said that “the Government has delivered major reform of the further education and training sector through new structures and processes that will enable provision to be targeted effectively to meet the needs of learners and employers. I am confident that SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards will carefully plan the delivery of these places to deliver the maximum positive impact for learners and for the economy.”

Speech to Advanced Certificates Craft Presentation 2015 at City West Hotel

Apprenticeships, Education

Check Against Delivery

Address

By

Damien English T.D., Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation

At the Advanced Certificates Craft Presentation 2015

City West Hotel, Dublin

Friday 25th September

Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today to celebrate your graduation as craftspeople. There are few occasions in our lives that are marked as special, and today is one of those days for you, the recipients of the Advanced Certificate Craft.

Apprenticeship is a high quality programme that is structured to ensure that the most up to date methods and practices are imparted to the participants throughout the duration of their apprenticeship. The combination of alternating phases of on-the-job and off-the-job training provides an opportunity to get a recognised qualification while at the same time gaining on-the-job experience relevant to your chosen career.

As Ireland’s economy continues to recover and businesses expand there will be more employment opportunities. We need to ensure that there is a pipeline of young talented people such as yourselves to meet this demand.

Businesses need people with strong practical skills, and apprenticeship and vocational training are key to delivering these. The skills learned through an apprenticeship are invaluable and offer real job opportunities.

In recent times we have seen a very high and growing demand for people with vocational skills and the Irish apprenticeship programme has proven hugely successful in developing highly skilled workers like yourselves here today.

The Irish Apprenticeship System is highly respected both here in Ireland and abroad and is one of the best apprenticeship programmes in the world. As Paul O’Toole mentioned, this is evident from the achievements of Irish apprentices in WorldSkills Competitions. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 2015 Irish Team, one of whom, David Morgan, is here today. Their success at this year’s WorldSkills Competition is remarkable.

I would also like to acknowledge the enormous contribution by all concerned with the provision of Apprenticeship training. Employers and the Education and Training Board Training Centres and Institutes of Technology all have a key role in the delivery of the programme, with SOLAS and the Department of Education & Skills, sharing responsibility for the planning of the programme. It is a model of partnership in action.

The reform of the Further Education and Training Sector is playing a key role in the Government’s commitment to ensuring that learners and those seeking employment can gain the skills they require to find employment and that employers have access to people who have the skills required for their business.

In 2013, as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs initiative, my Department undertook a review of the Irish apprenticeship system. A key recommendation of the review was the establishment of an Apprenticeship Council.

One of the first tasks of the Apprenticeship Council was to issue a call for proposals from consortia of industry and education and training providers, to develop new apprenticeships in sectors outside the current craft apprenticeships.

In July 2015, following an evaluation of proposals received, the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan T.D. and I announced twenty five new apprenticeship proposals. The expansion of Apprenticeship and the announcement of 25 new categories of Apprenticeship is part of the ongoing work to ensure that the system remains responsive to economic and employment needs.

The new apprenticeships will include a range of new industry sectors and offer new career opportunities. I am confident that these new apprenticeships will prove to be as successful and will match the very high standard of the existing 27 apprenticeships.

Finally, I would like to sincerely thank all those who offered you support and encouragement during your Apprenticeship. Today is an opportunity to celebrate your achievement in being recognised as highly skilled craftspersons.I congratulate each and every one of you and wish you every success with your career.

ENDS

Irish Times Op Ed: Degree not the only path to a decent job

Apprenticeships, Business, Education, I.T., Jobs, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Startups

In the past prejudice stopped many Irish people getting good jobs. We are all familiar with stories of job notices with “No Irish need apply”. Today prejudice is still stopping Irish people getting good jobs, but now it’s our own. There is a widespread but ill-informed attitude in Ireland that sees a university qualification as the only passport to a decent job, and apprenticeships and vocational training as a poor alternative.

In reality there is a very high and growing demand for people with vocational skills. For example, 48,000 people now work in the logistics sector, and over the next five years they will be joined by another 13,500 to 15,500 workers as the sector expands.

The skill levels needed to work in the sector are increasing. Complex computer management systems and highly automated warehouses are all leading to a demand for skilled staff.

Ireland now has one of the highest proportions of people with a third-level degree in the EU. According to Eurostat, more than half of 30- to 34-year-olds (51.1 per cent) in Ireland have completed third level compared to a European average of 35.8 per cent of 30- to 34-year-olds who had completed tertiary education.

The third-level system and the graduates it produces have been key to our economic success. However, problems are beginning to emerge with the current system. The overemphasis on university is stopping thousands of young people from learning saleable skills and building worthwhile careers. Instead they are being encouraged into courses for which they are ill-suited.

One result is that on average 15 per cent of students drop out after first year (22 per cent from ITs, 9 per cent from universities and 4 per cent from teacher-training colleges). This is a waste both of the students’ time, and taxpayers’ and parents’ money.

Overqualified

In addition, a recent OECD report suggests 42 per cent of people in Ireland work in an area that does not match their qualification. This is above the OECD average; more importantly, about half of these people are also defined as overqualified for the jobs they are actually doing. The report estimates the cost of this mismatch to the economy at about €1.5 billion.

There are also growing concerns, among employers, about skill shortages in key areas and graduates who are sometimes not prepared for the real world of work.

We have a very good education system but there are significant gaps in how we build skills in Ireland. Academic ability is not the only valuable talent and not every profession is best learnt in an academic setting. Business needs people with strong practical skills, and apprenticeships and vocational training are key to delivering these.

We need to recalibrate the third-level educational system to focus more on learning by doing and on-the-job training if we are to address these issues.

I believe we have a lot to learn from the German and Swiss models of education. German high-school students have a choice of 344 trades where they do an apprenticeship. In Switzerland 70 percent of all 15- to 19-year-olds participate in an apprenticeship, with a 91 per cent completion rate. Moreover, in the Swiss system apprentices are also able to leapfrog to a degree and about 10 per cent do a baccalaureate or top up their training academically.

As a result both countries have lower levels of youth unemployment and large pools of talented, skilled workers.

I would like to see major moves to strengthen our dual-track third-level education in Ireland: moves designed to develop the talents of all our people, providing students with the skills to thrive in a rapidly changing environment and the opportunity to easily switch tracks as appropriate during their careers.

I want a system where both tracks are equally valued and respected, where a talented student with academic ability may well choose to go down the vocational route because it offers as good, or a better, way to develop their career as the university route does. I would like to see a much more enterprise-responsive education system to provide the skills that students and industry require.

Harmful prejudice

The establishment of Solas, the further education and training authority, has provided a foundation stone on which we can build a real dual system. It is charged with planning, funding, and championing the sector.

For Solas to succeed it needs to focus on talent, excellence and impact. Solas is in the talent business, and Ireland needs skilled workers just as much as it needs skilled graduates. The courses and training it funds must be world class, to persuade students to invest their time, and industry to invest its money in training.

Solas also needs demonstrate, with hard data and case studies, to the market, to students, and not least of all to parents, the impact of its work and the value (and affordability) of vocational training.

This summer, with my colleague Minister Jan O’Sullivan, I announced plans to double the number of apprenticeship schemes by next spring. It will, I hope, be both a first step in the journey to a truly dual system of third-level education and the first nail in the coffin of an outdated and harmful prejudice.

Damien English is Minister of State with special responsibility for skills, research and innovation

25 new Apprenticeship proposals launched today

Apprenticeships, Skills

Delighted to  join Minister Jan O’Sullivan and Pat O’Doherty of ESB and the Apprentice Council in launching 25 new apprenticeships today.

Today I was delighted to join my Departmental colleague Minister Jan O’Sullivan and Pat O’Doherty of the ESB and Chair of the Apprenticeship Council in announcing 25 new apprenticeship offerings.

These new offerings will see an expansion of the existing range of programmes offered under the Apprenticeship system, and are part of ongoing work to ensure that the system remains responsive to economic and employment needs.

The new offerings which are now in the development phase are the result of an evaluation process undertaken by the Apprenticeship Council.

The 25 new Apprenticeships will focus on a wide range of skills and sectors, including Manufacturing and Engineering, Tourism and Sport, Financial Services, Information Technology, Transport Distribution and Logistics, and Business Administration and Management.

The new types of apprenticeships being proposed today are very flexible, ranging in duration from two to four years, and will be offered at Levels 5 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications.

My job in Government is to bring education and industry together to make sure we have the skills needed for industry to compete, and for our people to get decent jobs with good wages. Since becoming a Minister a year ago, I have made building a more effective Apprenticeship offering a key part of delivering both of these objectives.

Apprenticeships are not the educational equivalent of the Junior B Football Team for people not deemed bright enough for a college degree. They are a pathway to a fulfilling and profitable career. Apprenticeships are a tried and tested method of developing deep skills through a powerful mixture of working with and learning from experts on the job, and through structured coursework.

Apprenticeships are about learning by doing. Quite simply, they work.

The launch venue of Dublin restaurant Fallon & Byrne was a fitting one given the surge in demand for more skilled people to work in the restaurant and hospitality sectors which has been highlighted to me regularly by Stephen McNally, and Enfield native and President of the Irish Hotels Federation, as well as many local hotel and restaurant owners.

Among the 25 new apprenticeships I want to highlight the work of Ashbourne butcher of the Association of Craft Butchers in Ireland for advancing the new Butchery and Fresh Food Retail apprenticeship.

There are also  significant job opportunities in the HGV driver sector,  and the I.T. sector, which is again reflected amongst the 25 new apprenticeships that will be offered.

ESB have announced 300 new apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships, Education, Skills

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I was delighted to join with the Tanaiste Joan Burton in launching 300 new apprenticeships at the ESB in Portlaoise this morning.

The CEO of the ESB, Pat O’Doherty, who also Chairs the Apprenticeship Council, is leading by practical example in his company.

I hope the work of the Apprenticeship Council, under Pat’s leadership, will mean many more new apprenticeships on offer by the end of this year/early 2016.

The ESB is recruiting 300 apprentices over the next five years, as part of a €40m investment in the utility’s training and development programme.

Network Technician apprentices will get 23 weeks of training at the ESB training centre in Portlaoise as part of their four year electrical apprenticeship.

The deadline for application is 13th March 2015.