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34,000 more skilled trade workers needed to deliver 2030 housing targets - Simon Harris


Minister Simon Harris said the attitude to third level education in Ireland was "too snobby, too elitist".

Minister Simon Harris said the attitude to third level education in Ireland was "too snobby, too elitist".

Minister Simon Harris said the attitude to third level education in Ireland was "too snobby, too elitist".

Ireland is going to need an extra 34,000 skilled trade workers in order to build the number of houses promised in the Government’s 2030 housing plans.

Some 51,000 trades workers will be needed by 2030 to construct the 300,000 new homes the Government intends to build this decade, which will require approximately 34,000 newly acquired, skilled workers.

Higher and Further Education Minister Simon Harris said this will require a cultural sea change in how Ireland views trades and to abolish the “snobby” attitude towards third level education.

“By 2030 we need to have an additional 34,000 people trained in what are traditionally called the trades. How are we going to get there? Firstly, by changing the CAO process.

“For the first time this year, when students log onto their CAO application, they will see traditional CAO options, further education options and now they’ll see apprenticeships. That’s the beginning of the cultural change that will happen,” Mr Harris told Newstalk this morning.

“It’s too snobby a system, too elitist a system and too narrow a system. You meet kids and the first question they’re nearly asked is what university they want to go to rather than what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

“I want everyone in Ireland to be able to access third level education but also tell them there are different but equal ways of accessing it,” he said.

The minister said the aim of his department is to create a fully integrated third level system where there are “multiple pathways for people to get where they want to” and not putting “a ridiculous amount of pressure on 17 and 18-year-olds. You can see it etched on their faces”.

“That we look at the fact that apprenticeships are third level and not just tell people that for a long time,” Mr Harris said.

The Department of Social Protection is also working with people who have been out of work for some time and helping them gain jobs in construction, he said.

He said “properly investing” in third level education will help Ireland’s university rankings reclaim spots in the top 100 universities worldwide. Mr Harris said €307m will be injected into the sector in the lifetime of the current government.

Ireland has a ratio of one staff member to every 20 students at third level, lagging far behind the EU average of one to 15, Mr Harris said.

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“The €307m will make sure the Irish third level education system is funded to a level that equates roughly to Sweden and to some of the best third level education systems in the EU.

“That will in turn, absolutely, bring us up the rankings. Properly funding the education system is vital but it can only be part of the reform agenda,” he said.

The minister said Ireland can have at least two universities in the top 100 but also “all of our universities should look to be the top at something, not just in the top 100”.

“We should have universities that want to be specialists, world leaders and European leaders in certain areas.”


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