UP to 6,500 new training places are being provided to help the long-term unemployed get back to work.
They will be allowed keep their unemployment payments while doing the new courses.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said it would ensure there was not a "lost generation" of young people who were scarred by long term unemployment.
The new 'Momentum' programme will offer 62 free full and part time courses around the country in areas where there is a demand for skilled workers.
These include digital media, food processing, medical devices and green energy. The annual cost of the programme is €20m
Around 1,400 of the 6,500 places will be reserved for young people aged under 25 who have been out of work for at least a year. The remainder will be for other long term unemployed aged over 25.
The new programme has been launched at Windmill Lane Studios in Ringsend in Dublin - where many U2 albums were recorded - by Mr Quinn, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Junior Minister for Education and Training Ciaran Cannon.