The Government has launched a new online "one stop shop" for people seeking to retrain or acquire new skills, including options that allow unemployed people to retain their social welfare benefits while undertaking courses. 

Business owners are also encouraged to explore enterprise-led business supports, as well as targeted up-skilling opportunities for employees in business, free online training programmes and virtual job placements.  
The online portal includes diverse options ranging from short part-time courses to in-work training, to apprenticeships, to a return to third level education.    

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris acknowledged that while many options for retraining already exist, "the system is complex and can overburden some people." 

He said the new online portal would offer a clear picture of what was on offer, how to access it, and further supports available to people. 

"If you are unemployed temporarily as a result of Covid-19, now could be the time to do a short course. You can still retain your social welfare payments while undertaking the course," he confirmed. 

"Ireland is a small country. We cannot afford to have untapped talent and we cannot leave any person locked out of society because of a lack of skills," the Minister warned.  

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He noted that the pandemic had forced everyone to confront many of the current skills shortages.  

"We must ensure our people have access to the skills they need to succeed in life; and Irish business has the people with the skills they need to grow. This is also critical to securing our recovery and ensuring Ireland's people share in that recovery," the Minister stated. 

The Department confirmed that 1,358 employers have applied for the Government's Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme aimed at recruiting 2,350 new apprentices - with an eventual target of 10,000 per year.

Under the scheme, employers receive a grant of €3,000 per trainee registered between March and June of this year.

The Government will also set targets to boost the number of apprenticeships in the public sector, where there are currently as few as 200 craft apprenticeships, 40 ICT and ten accounting technician apprenticeships in a workforce of almost 350,000.