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 InstitutionTitle of ProjectCollaborative Education Partners
Munster Technological UniversityREEdI- Rethinking Engineering Education in Ireland UL
Atlantic Technological UniversityHigherEd 4.0: Enabling agile responsiveness from Higher Education
Technological University DublinCONVENE: Transforming university-enterprise engagement for a more sustainable and resilient post-pandemic IrelandUCD
Technological University DublinGROWTH HUBSETU
University of Galway Designing Futures
National College of Art and Design Creative Futures AcademyIADT, UCD
South East Technological University Strengthening and Protecting the Funds Industry in Ireland MTU
University College CorkSustainable FuturesATU, MU
Munster Technological UniversityCyber SkillsUL, TU Dublin
Dublin City University (IUA)MicroCredsDCU, 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 LimerickUL@Work
University College CorkThe iEd Hub: Holistic education for enterprise, with enterprise in Healthcare and BiopharmaMTU
South East Technological UniversityAMASE: Additive Manufacturing Advancing the South East
Maynooth UniversityVirtual Laboratories in higher education as an innovative pedagogical tool TUS, DkIT, UCC, DCU
Dublin City UniversityDCU Futures - A radical restructuring of the DCU Undergraduate Curriculum
Technological University of the ShannonDigital Academy for Sustainable Built Environment (DASBE) ATU, IEA, IGBC
South East Technological UniversityCentre for Insurance, Risk and Data Analytics Studies (CIRDAS) ATU
Royal College of SurgeonsEnabling Future Pharma
Trinity College DublinNext generation teaching and learning for the changing needs of society and enterprise
University College DublinThe ADVANCE Centre for Professional Education ARU, TCD
South East Technological UniversityPostgraduate Certificate in Innovative Materials for Industry 4.0 DCU
Technological University DublinBuilding Change: Resilient Design Curricula for 21st Century Professionals UCD, SETU, UL, UCC, MTU, ATU
Munster Technological UniversityIreland’s Knowledge Centre for Carbon and Climate TCD, UCD
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