Irish workforce interested in upskilling

UCD Professional Academy Upskilling Report highlights key challenges facing Ireland’s workforce.

Interest in upskilling continues to grow with over 2m people in Ireland potentially interested in pursuing a course.

UCD Professional Academy’s third annual upskilling report shows that 44% of those surveyed are possibly considering taking a professional development course in the next twelve months and a further 22% would be interested if the right course was available to them.

“Individuals who take one upskilling course are much more likely to pursue further upskilling opportunities and continue their professional development journey”

However, financial concerns continue to hamper uptake and 31% of respondents who had not previously engaged in upskilling cannot afford to take a course. This is an increase of 3% since 2022, highlighting the growing affordability challenges posed by broader economic issues.

Funding is critical to upskilling

Almost a quarter (24%) of past course takers feel a lack of government or public funding may prevent them from taking further upskilling courses. As with previous years, such courses are most commonly self-funded (38%).

While there has been a slight increase (3%) in employers or organisations paying for staff to upskill, 42% of respondents reported that their employer offered employees no option for professional development or learning, either in-house or externally

The report further highlights the continued importance of flexibility for upskilling. After costs, time constraints were the most common barrier to upskilling. Convenience was identified by 20% of those who have not pursued an upskilling course and a further 9% think a course would be too time consuming. For potential learners to take on the commitment of a short form professional development course convenient to potential students juggling work and other commitments

More than half (55%) of Irish workers would prefer a part-time approach with one class a week over a longer period (10 to 12 weeks), while a third (34%) would favour a “full day” class over a shorter period of four to six weeks. While hybrid learning remains the preferred option (31%), there is a notable increase in past-course takers wanting in-person classes (19% in 2023 versus 12% in 2022).

This uptick potentially reflects post-Covid-19 virtual fatigue. 

“Despite uncertain economic times, we are very pleased to see the Irish workforce continues to demonstrate a strong interest in upskilling,” said Siobhan McAleer, interim CEO at UCD Professional Academy.

“Our third annual upskilling course highlights that individuals who take one upskilling course are much more likely to pursue further upskilling opportunities and continue their professional development journey.

“In 2023, the EU Year of Skills, 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.” 

Third Annual Upskilling Report
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