UCD report highlights that the amount of people involved in short form upskilling could be doubled.
Less than a quarter of Irish workers are engaged in upskilling, and the majority of courses are self-funded.
Ireland’s workforce faces an upskilling challenge and if the conditions and courses were right the amount of people upskilling themselves would more than double, according to a new report from UCD Professional Academy entitled Keeping Ireland Competitive: The Key Challenges Facing Ireland’s Workforce.
“To engage Ireland’s workforce in continuous professional development, we must consider accessibility through funding and convenience”
According to the report, Irish learners have very clear objectives when giving over their finite time to upskilling. “Career advancement” is cited as the leading motivator (76%), followed by “bettering my skillset” (71%) and “bolstering my CV” (55%).
When asked in which areas they wanted to upskill, course subject preferences skewed towards modern business skills such as IT and computer science, alongside business, finance and leadership skills.
Upskilling disconnect in the workplace
Demand for upskilling is high within the Irish workforce. 24% of Irish people are either engaged in, or say they are highly likely to take, a short course for professional upskilling. 36% say they “might consider it if the right course was available” in terms of both content and accessibility of delivery.
The report highlighted that the amount of people involved in short form upskilling could be doubled if the right courses were made available, showing a strong appetite for professional development.
There is evidence of a disconnect between the times working professionals are available to learn and the times many upskilling courses are being offered. When asked what might prevent them from participating in a course, 40% of people referenced inconvenience in relation to timing. The report highlights that part-time on weekday evenings is the most popular time to take a course while 89% of people want to take a course in a flexible fashion rather than in full time blocks.
Affordability is highlighted as the single most significant barrier to undertaking professional courses with 59% citing financial reasons. Meanwhile, of those pursuing upskilling courses, 41% are self-funded while 40% are either fully or partly funded by their employer.
“As the rate of economic change accelerates, continuous professional development will play an ever-increasing role in unlocking both the professional potential of individuals and the wider economic potential of the country,” said Aaron McKenna, CEO, UCD Professional Academy.
“To engage Ireland’s workforce in continuous professional development, we must consider accessibility through funding and convenience.
“We have to meet working professionals on their terms regarding subject matter, accessibility, and convenience and to achieve the cut through required. Simply put, people need compelling reasons to commit their scant time and resources to their individual upskilling.
“The UCD Professional Academy hopes that the insights provided in this report can inform the upskilling of Ireland’s workforce, which is essential to ensuring that Ireland can continue to thrive into the future,” McKenna said.