The Human Capital Initiative (HCI) is delivering an investment targeted towards increasing capacity in higher education in skills-focused programmes designed to meet priority skills needs.
These needs were identified though the detailed and comprehensive framework now in place under the National Skills Council, including publications from the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU), the work of the Regional Skills Fora, the NTF Advisory Group, and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, and direct involvement of employers. The HCI also responded to the targets outlined in the National Skills Strategy, Technology Skills 2022, and other government strategies. It seeks to promote innovative and responsive models of programme delivery, and to enable the higher education system to respond rapidly to changes in both skills requirements and technology.
The key HCI objectives are to:
Increase provision in areas of identified skills need
Future proof graduates with industry relevant skills for emerging technologies
Ensure that there is a greater focus across the whole spectrum of higher education course provision on promoting and embedding transversal skills
Incentivise continued reform and innovation in higher education provision building on best practice available nationally and internationally.
The key areas of focus for actions under the initiative are:
- Priority skills needs for the economy, particularly in high productivity growth sectors
- Mitigating Brexit risks
- Promoting regional development and NDP/Project 2040 objectives
- Innovation and reform in programme provision
- Responding to digitalisation and the future world of work
- Strengthening relationships with enterprise and addressing identified future skills needs
- Provision of upskilling and reskilling through lifelong learning
The HCI consists of 3 main pillars. The funding under each was awarded through a series of challenge based competitive call models. The three Pillars are as follows:
- Pillar 1 – Full-Time Graduate Conversion Courses
- Pillar 2 – Additional Places on Existing Full-Time Undergraduate Provision
- Pillar 3 – Innovation and Agility
All funding calls for the HCI are now closed.
Pillar 1 – Full-Time Graduate Conversion Courses
HCI Pillar 1 offers incentivised places for graduates to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies, including, but not limited to, ICT, High End Manufacturing, Data Analytics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, via full-time graduate conversion courses. Courses at level 8 Higher Diploma and level 9 Postgraduate Diploma on the National Qualifications Framework are funded under this pillar. Courses are provided in areas of identified skills needs as outlined below:
- Environmental Sciences (ISCED 0521), Biochemistry (0512), Chemistry (0531)
- Engineering (ISCEDs 0710; 0711; 0712; 0713; 0714; 0715) and Manufacturing (ISCEDs 0720; 0721)
- Construction (ISCED 0732) including Building Information Management (full content) and Sustainable Building
- Other: (Business Information Systems, Data Analytics, Data Scientists, Financial Analysis, Medical Technology, Biopharmaceutical Sciences/Technology, Validation, Automation)
- Conversion courses for language graduates to address high skill needs areas
- Courses in targeted ISCED areas outlined which have a project management or a strategic design/design thinking component are welcome.
HCI Pillar 1 courses have been newly developed specifically for this call. The courses are developed to address digital skills, transversal skills, management and leadership skills and the workplace of the future. They also include a dedicated accredited work placement or work-based project. Where necessary participants on reskilling courses are provided with a dedicated job readiness component on their course to facilitate their transition into a new area of employment. Enhanced digital skills, skills for zero carbon, and construction directly address the national policies and targets for skills needs for the digital economy, for zero carbon and housing for all. Courses are free for unemployed people and are heavily subsidised for those in employment, making them accessible to applicants. Affordable reskilling is vital for our economy in these times of increased living costs and rising inflation.
For more information on HCI Pillar 1 courses, please visit our website.
Pillar 2 – Additional Places on Existing Full-Time Undergraduate Provision
Pillar 2 provides an incentivised top up funding to higher education institutions that provide additional full-time undergraduate places on specified courses in high skills needs areas. Courses are available through the CAO application system and lead to a recognised award at NFQ levels, 6, 7 or 8; including Undergraduate provision at Higher Certificate, Ordinary Bachelor’s Degree, Honours Bachelor’s Degree Courses in ICT, Environmental Sciences, Engineering, and Manufacturing will directly address the national policies and targets for skills needs for the national digital strategy, for zero carbon objectives and housing for all.
- Environmental Sciences (ISECD 0521)
- Information and Communication Technologies (ISCEDs 0610; 0611; 0612; 0613)
- Engineering (ISCEDs 0710; 0711; 0712; 0713; 0714; 0715)
- Manufacturing (ISCEDs 0720; 0721)
- Construction (ISCEDs 0732)
- Other: Courses which lead to qualifications relevant to the below listed occupations and fall outside the above specified ISCEDs are also eligible:
- Business Information Systems
- Data Analysts
- Data Scientists
Pillar 3 – Innovation and Agility
Pillar 3 Innovation and Agility supports innovative and agile proposals from institutions or groups of institutions with application and impact across the higher education system. The projects align innovation and agility with national strategic objectives, key system objectives for the higher education system, and future skills needs for society and the economy. Pillar 3 is focused on the core principle of embedding innovation and agility across a wide spectrum of undergraduate provision. Twenty-four projects developing innovative, and responsive models of programme delivery, are underway.
All projects are collaborative with enterprise partners developing innovative, and responsive models of programme delivery boosting the higher education systems ability to respond rapidly to changes in both skills requirements and technology. The pillar includes 77 collaborative partners from the higher education sector, working with over 430 enterprise partners.
|HEI Lead Institution||Title of Project||Collaborative Education Partners|
|Munster Technological University||REEdI- Rethinking Engineering Education in Ireland||UL|
|Atlantic Technological University||HigherEd 4.0: Enabling agile responsiveness from Higher Education|
|Technological University Dublin||CONVENE: Transforming university-enterprise engagement for a more sustainable and resilient post-pandemic Ireland||UCD|
|Technological University Dublin||GROWTH HUB||SETU|
|University of Galway||Designing Futures|
|National College of Art and Design||Creative Futures Academy||IADT, UCD|
|South East Technological University||Strengthening and Protecting the Funds Industry in Ireland||MTU|
|University College Cork||Sustainable Futures||ATU, MU|
|Munster Technological University||Cyber Skills||UL, TU Dublin, UCD|
|Dublin City University (IUA)||MicroCreds||DCU, MU, UCC, TCD, UCD, UL, University of Galway|
|South East Technological University (IUA and THEA)||Realising the potential of recognition of prior learning and lifelong learning in Irish higher education||ATU, DCU, DkIT, IADT, MTU, SETU, TCD, TU Dublin, TUS, UCC, UL, University of Galway, MU, UCD, THEA, IUA|
|University of Limerick||UL@Work|
|University College Cork||The iEd Hub: Holistic education for enterprise, with enterprise in Healthcare and Biopharma||MTU|
|South East Technological University||AMASE: Additive Manufacturing Advancing the South East|
|Maynooth University||Virtual Laboratories in higher education as an innovative pedagogical tool||TUS, DkIT, UCC, DCU|
|Dublin City University||DCU Futures - A radical restructuring of the DCU Undergraduate Curriculum|
|Technological University of the Shannon||Digital Academy for Sustainable Built Environment (DASBE)||ATU, IEA, IGBC|
|South East Technological University||Centre for Insurance, Risk and Data Analytics Studies (CIRDAS)||ATU|
|Royal College of Surgeons||Enabling Future Pharma|
|Trinity College Dublin||Next generation teaching and learning for the changing needs of society and enterprise|
|University College Dublin||The ADVANCE Centre for Professional Education||ARU, TCD|
|South East Technological University||Postgraduate Certificate in Innovative Materials for Industry 4.0||DCU|
|Technological University Dublin||Building Change: Resilient Design Curricula for 21st Century Professionals||UCD, SETU, UL, UCC, MTU, ATU|
|Munster Technological University||Ireland’s Knowledge Centre for Carbon and Climate||TCD, UCD|