The announcement is in direct response to the issues raised in the consultation process which looked at the proposal for an Exchequer-employer investment mechanism for higher education and further education and training. This mechanism would involve an incremental annual increase of 0.1% in the NTFd levy to increase it from 0.7% to 1% in the three year period to 2020, delivering up to €200 million in additional funding from employers, adding to payroll costs. This proposal stems from a recommendation in the report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education.

The Minister has committed 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.

A key recommendation contained in the 2016 report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education (Cassells Report) was that employers, as major beneficiaries of the outcomes of higher education, should contribute more to the funding of higher education and that this could be achieved by an increase in the National Training Fund levy. The Cassells report included a number of recommendations in relation to options to fund higher education in the period to 2030. The Group estimated that an additional €600m funding per annum would be required for higher education by 2021 and €1 billion by 2030.

How will this impact HR professionals?

The CIPD in Ireland recommends that HR professionals stay abreast of developments in this area in terms of understanding the implications on payroll costs, paths to employment, upskilling as well as guiding senior organisational leaders in terms of future skills needs. Organisations will need to be cognisant of their obligations and position themselves to benefit from national policy initiatives such as Lifelong Learning, R&D, work placements, apprenticeship provision and skillnets opportunities.

Minister Bruton has assured that employers will have a greater role in shaping the type of education and training that is delivered, and expects employers to contribute more as their future success depends so much on the capacity of the education sector to respond to their needs. Plans need to ensure that learning initiatives of all forms take advantage of digital and future-focused learning methods.

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