Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris encouraged everyone to consider learning a new skill as research revealed that more than half of those surveyed have taken on the challenge over the past year.

The Year of Skills was launched by Minister Harris in May with a call to action for everyone in the country to put skills at the centre for this year – and to take the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Research carried out by Amárach on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, found that this message had resonated with many, with 54 per cent of those surveyed saying they had learned a new skill this year.

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 Minister Harris said:

We are now more than half way through the Year of Skills, and I’m delighted that so many people have taken the opportunity to pursue something new.

Learning a new skill goes beyond finding a new job or getting promoted.

The research shows that it can improve mental health and confidence, and even help people widen their circle of friends.

As we begin 2024, I am once again issuing our call to action – take some time to consider something you always wanted to do or learn, and go after it.

It could be a change of career, or something that will help you in your current one, but it just as easily could be something you are passionate about but never had the time to take on before now.

There are courses and pathways available for everyone, so let’s take advantage of all the opportunities available, and help drive both our economy and societal wellbeing.

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Some of the key findings from the Amárach research included:

  • almost 9 in 10 (86%) are interested in learning a new skill in the near future
  • females (92%), younger ages (97%), those in employment (93%), postgrads (93%), those with children under 18 (91%), and those who know others who have learned a new skill (93%) are most likely to be interested in pursuing one too
  • self-development (57%) is the main motivation for learning a new skill, followed by interest in the subject (47%) and to improve job skills (47%)
  • among those who have learned a new skill, a significant majority (92%) say it has boosted their confidence, improved their mental and physical well-being (88%) and helped them in their careers (68%)
  • seven in ten (69%) have made new friends, just over half inspired friends and family to learn a new skill (52%), and just under half (47%) said it had helped them earn more money

 

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The launch of the Year of Skills in May coincided with the publication of the OECD Ireland Skills Strategy Report, which found participation in lifelong learning here, while above the EU average, is not enough to make Ireland one of the world leaders in this area.

There is however a rich offering of learning opportunities available to those who wish to upskill and reskill, ranging from short courses, microcredentials and part time provision to full time post graduate programmes.

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Dr Vivienne Patterson, Head of Skills in the HEA said:

Providing affordable, flexible, agile options for up-skilling is key to ensuring that opportunities are available for everyone no matter what stage you are in your life.

The Higher Education system will continue to contribute to increasing Irelands lifelong learning metrics by delivering relevant skills training informed by research and enterprise engagement in 2024.

 

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Nessa White, Executive Director of Transformation at SOLAS, the Further Education & Training Authority, said:

We welcome the strong participation in the call to learn something new during EU Year of Skills.

Lifelong learning is for everyone, with the Further Education and Training (FET) sector playing a vital role in providing learners with the opportunity to engage in learning within their local communities regardless of any previous levels of education, with pathways to take them as far as they want to go.

There is no better time to upskill and reskill close to home through smart and flexible FET courses delivered nationwide by Education and Training Board network and eCollege.

This new year, we encourage everyone to explore the wealth of opportunities to learn a new skill in their local area.

 

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Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive Paul Healy said:

Our Skillnet Business Networks and dedicated talent initiatives, deliver the skills solutions businesses need to compete and grow.

Fostering greater participation in lifelong learning across Ireland is essential and will only increase in importance over the coming years.

Globally, the digital transformation, climate change, and other issues – are rapidly transforming the skills individuals need to effectively participate in work and society.

We look forward to engaging more businesses, and their talent, in up skilling, re skilling, and developing talent in their teams.

 

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Minister Rabbitte welcomed the findings of the survey and stated:

The Year of Skills is such an exiting and ground-breaking project.  Overall, the benefits of learning a new skill extend beyond the acquisition of knowledge, positively impacting various facets of one’s life.

Learning a new skill is a transformative and enriching experience with a myriad of benefits.

Firstly, acquiring new skills enhances cognitive abilities, fostering mental agility and problem-solving skills.

This mental stimulation not only keeps the brain active but also contributes to improved memory and overall cognitive function.

Additionally, learning a new skill cultivates a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence, boosting one’s self-esteem and opening up new avenues for personal and professional growth, increasing adaptability in an ever-changing world.

Moreover, the process of acquiring a new skill often involves setting and achieving goals, promoting discipline and perseverance.

From a social perspective, learning new skills provides opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, fostering a sense of community and shared interests. 

Every day is a learning day!

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