Ministers Announce Comprehensive Review of the National Training Fund

14 July 2017 

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., together with the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., and the Minister of State for Training and Skills, John Halligan T.D., today (Friday 14th July 2017) announced a comprehensive review of the National Training Fund.

Minister Bruton indicated that today’s announcement is in direct response to the issues raised in the consultation process which looked at theproposal for an Exchequer-Employer investment mechanism for higher education and further education and training. This would involve an incremental annual increase of 0.1% in the National Training Fund levy to increase it from 0.7% to 1% in the three year period to 2020, delivering up to €200million in additional funding from employers. This proposal stems from a recommendation in the report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education.

Minister Bruton said:

“Ireland must identify, prioritise and address the existing and future skills needs of our economy and society. Winning the war for talent will be crucial to achieving and sustaining full employment, against a backdrop of international challenges.

“As a community we need to invest more in higher and further education. In 2017, the state will invest €36.5m extra in this sector, with €160m committed over the next three years. It is reasonable to ask employers to contribute more as their future success depends so much on the capacity of the education sector to respond to their needs.

“In return enterprise must also have a greater role in shaping the type of education and training that is delivered.”

The Minister has committed today to:

·        Greater employer input into informing NTF priorities, including through the National Skills Council which advises on existing and future skills needs.

·        Publication of annual data on the breakdown of NTF expenditure, evidence of engagement with employers and the impact of NTF funded programmes.

·        Carrying out a comprehensive independent review of the NTF which will be overseen by a Steering Group comprised of relevant Government Departments as well as employer and other stakeholder representatives.

The Minister said that these measures will provide assurance to employers and wider stakeholders about what the Fund is delivering and how it is responding, and how it can respond better, to existing and future skills needs.

The comprehensive review will assist in informing the future strategic direction of the Fund from 2018 onwards.

The Government in its final-decision making on the introduction of an Exchequer-Employer Investment mechanism, taking into account the outcome of the consultation process, will also consider the scope for a multi-annual Exchequer investment commitment subject to overall budgetary and expenditure considerations, including compliance with EU Fiscal Rules.

A final decision on whether there will be an increase in the NTF levy will be taken by the Government in the context of the 2018 estimates process.

Minister Bruton continued:

“Minister Donohoe and I have indicated that we favour an enhanced contribution from employers as part of the overall solution to a sustainable future funding model for higher education. It is reasonable to ask employers to contribute more as their future success depends so much on the capacity of the education sector to respond to their needs.

“Today I am announcing that employers will have a greater role in informing the priorities of the NTF, including through the National Skills Council which I chair. The publication of information about how the NTF is being used will also ensure that the fund is correctly targeted towards addressing existing and future skills needs and winning the war for talent.”

Minister of State Mitchell O’Connor said:

“We are facing a serious challenges in relation to higher education funding. The Cassells report made clear that to do nothing is not an option and the Government is committed to developing a comprehensive response to the issues identified in the Cassells report. In 2017, the state will invest €36.5m extra in higher education, with €160m committed over the next three years. Today’s announcement that a breakdown of NTF expenditure, evidence of engagement with employers and the impact of NTF funded programmes, will be provided is a very positive step forward.”

Minister of State Halligan said:

“We need to expand the range of apprenticeships and traineeships. The target in the Action Plan for Education will see a total of 50,000 apprenticeship and traineeship registrations by 2020.Employer buy in is critical as the apprenticeship model is dependent on employers taking on apprentices. Today’s announcement will give employers a greater input into the priorities of the NTF. It is essential that key stakeholders continue to build on existing and foster new relationships within the enterprise community and that all sectors of the economy embrace the challenge to develop new apprenticeships.”

Consultation Process & Full Report Links below:

Review of the Consultation Process on a proposed Employer-Exchequer Investment Mechanism for Higher Education and Further Education and Skills

http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Investing-in-National-Ambition-A-Strategy-for-Funding-Higher-Education.pdf

Full Press Release Link here: http://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2017-Press-Releases/PR17-07-14.html