New €300m Fund to support priority skill needs of enterprise, drive regional development, and support key sectors in the Face of Brexit
Budget 2019 marks the third year of a major reinvestment in the education sector, as we continue to implement the Action Plan for Education, our plan to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. In 2019, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €674 million, a 6.7% increase on last year.
This will bring Government expenditure on education and skills to its highest ever level of nearly €10.8 billion. This includes the highest ever capital allocation for education - €941 million, a €196m increase on 2018.
Education is central to achieving this Government’s overall objectives – securing a strong, future-proofed economy, balanced across the regions and a fair society. Education is the engine behind strong national and regional development, delivering the future skill needs of our economy. It is also essential to breaking down barriers and enabling everyone to fulfil their full potential.
Over the three Budgets encompassed by the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019, annual investment in education will have risen by nearly €1.7 billion, an increase of over 18% on 2016 levels. This reflects the government’s commitment to delivering on our plan to have the best education and training service in Europe.
Key measures in Budget 2019
Additional posts in schools: Budget 2019 will see numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools will be funded, including 950 additional SNA posts and 372 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes. As a result of this year’s allocation, there will be 70,313 teachers and over 15,900 SNAs employed in our schools.
Increased School Funding: Schools will receive a 5% increase in capitation from September 2019. Over the course of the school year 2019/20, an additional €10 million will be allocated to primary and post primary schools, of which €4 million will be allocated in 2019.
€300m Human Capital Initiative: A major new Human Capital Initiative is to be established within the National Training Fund to allocate €300 million from the Fund’s surplus, over the period 2020-2024 to meet the future skills needs of the economy and provide additional investment at levels 6-8 in higher education. This investment will underpin the provision of additional capacity across the higher education sector to meet the priority skill needs of enterprise, to drive regional jobs growth and development, and support key economic sectors in responding to the challenges of Brexit.
Focus on innovation and excellence: The School Excellence Fund, the government’s initiative to encourage and support local innovation will increase by 25% to over €2.5 million, allowing more schools to collaborate in clusters to experiment with novel solutions to common challenges.
Support for school leadership & wellbeing: Building on measures in previous budgets to enhance school leadership, further investment is being made today to provide teaching principals in primary schools with one additional release day and four additional release days for those in schools with special classes. 10 additional psychologists will be recruited to the National Education Psychological Service to support wellbeing in schools.
Improving outcomes for children with additional care needs: Nearly €5 million is being allocated to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Review of the SNA scheme, which is intended to support a new school inclusion model to deliver the right supports at the right time to students with additional care needs. The Government has significantly increased investment in special education in recent years.
Building state of the art schools: under Ireland Project 2040, we will deliver an ambitious school building programme, which will support the creation of up to 23,000 new and replacement school places in 2019. It is expected that over 45 large scale school projects will reach substantial completion in 2019. €50 million will be allocated in 2019 to facilitate the further roll-out of the investment programme to upgrade ICT infrastructure in all schools – a 67% increase on 2018 – in line with our ambition to embed computer science and coding across the curriculum.
Higher Education: A package of €57 million in additional current funding will be invested in higher education initiatives in 2019 alongside €41 million additional funding for pay deals and pensions in the sector. This will fund provision for 3,500 additional places, initiatives to support innovation and performance awards, teaching and learning capacity, 1,000 additional places on Springboard+, research funds for Institutes of Technology/TUs, part-time and flexible learning. There will be also be a strengthening of counselling services in higher education. Total funding in higher education will be €337m higher in 2019 than in 2016 (current funding increase of €260m since 2016 and capital funding increase of €79m since 2016). Capital investment of €150 million will also be allocated to the higher education, further education and training and research sectors in 2019.
Apprenticeships and Skills: Funding is being made available to support for 7,000 apprenticeship registrations, 5,000 traineeship enrolments and 10 new apprenticeship schemes, in line with our overall commitment to double the number of apprenticeships. There is also significant investment in workforce learning and development with €6 million additional funding for Skillnet Ireland and €11 million for employee skills development initiatives.
Public service pay: €122m to implement the Public Services Pay and Stability Agreement, and the recent outcome of discussions on new entrant salary scales.
Reform of the National Training Fund: The NTF levy will rise by 0.1% in 2019 and 2020 in order to fund investment in education and training relevant to the skills needs of the economy. The Government is committed to reform of the Fund to ensure that it continues to be responsive to the world of work. The implementation plan for the independent review of the NTF is being published by the Department alongside Budget 2019.
Minister Bruton said: “Budget 2019 will help us make significant progress on our journey to becoming the best education and training service in Europe by 2026.
“Education is key to our ability to adapt successfully during a period of very rapid change and considerable new challenges. This Budget is making the investments we need to ensure we equip Irish talent with the capacity to shape their future. We are investing heavily in new pathways, skills, school leadership and local innovation. In particular, the €300m human capital initiative will have a big impact on addressing skills needs of enterprise, driving regional development and supporting key sectors in the face of Brexit. We also have the highest ever capital budget this year, as part of our plan to prepare for the future by investing in state of the art new schools, and in higher and further education.”
Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “I am delighted that we are announcing the establishment of a new multi-annual €300 million, Human Capital Initiative, for the higher education sector. This funding will see €300m invested from 2020 to 2024 with €60m being made available in each of those years. This funding will be used to address emerging skills needs in the economy. It will also support enterprise in responding to the challenges of Brexit. I have secured an additional €57.4 million in current expenditure in 2019. Furthermore under the National Development Plan we will have a capital budget for higher education of €138 million in 2019, which will be invested in buildings and research in our third level institutions.”
Minister Halligan said: “The greater employer contribution to the National Training Fund is enabling substantial additional investment in Further Education and Training. Employers and learners will see real value in this investment, which will support the continued implementation of the Government’s Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship as well as resourcing a new initiative to upskill lower qualified workers. The €11 million in investment in this new initiative will deliver support for 5,000 additional workers, including those with literacy and numeracy difficulties, through the Education and Training Boards.”