Some 14,000 places in higher education are to be made available without fees or with reduced fees to help support workers affected by Covid-19.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris is due to announce funding of €30 million to support part-time or post-graduate places.

Last July the Government announced a jobs stimulus package and part of the focus was upskilling workers worst-hit by the restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus.

As part of that, the funding package to be announced will seek to ease the financial burden of those seeking training or education.

It will fund the fees for almost 12,000 places on modular courses.

These are short and focused and can be done remotely or part-time, in order to allow people to gain skills without taking time out of the labour market.

There will also be funding for 2,500 postgraduate places.

These will be available on 200 courses across 23 colleges and higher education institutions, covering a range of skills including sciences, engineering, ICT, health and tourism and hospitality.

The funding will be open to those returning to the workforce, already in employment or recent graduates.

Those in receipt of social welfare payments, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, will be eligible to undertake courses free of charge.