Renewals of 'Safe Pass' cards for construction workers will be available online in the New Year resulting in faster processing times and lower costs.

Safe Pass is a mandatory one-day health and safety awareness programme for workers in the construction industry.

The new online option to renew Safe Pass cards will be available from 23 January 2023.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said it is part of efforts to reduce barriers in construction careers, an objective of Housing for All.

"Over 30,000 people will avail of this option within the first 12 months of the programme going live and that's just the start as we see increasing numbers of Safe Pass applications all the time," Mr Harris said.

Workers needing to renew their Safe Pass card will be able to attend a computer-based test in an approved exam centre.

CEO of SOLAS Andrew Brownlee said: "The new Safe Pass renewal system will greatly benefit the construction sector, enabling the provision of a time and cost-effective process to renew Safe Pass."

"This new system will result in savings of 50%, with renewal time now taking just 45 minutes instead of requiring a full day in the classroom, at a lower cost of €93.84," Mr Brownlee said.

Also today, Minister Harris officially launched a new construction skills training programme.

The course, which is run in partnership with SOLAS and the National Construction Training Campus in Mount Lucas, includes the practical application of skills such as the mixing and laying concrete, laying of blocks and the use of small tools and equipment.