New scheme to retrain 2,000 jobless from tourism and retail

People left unemployed by Covid-19 can retrain in areas with employment potential

A new programme aimed at retraining up to 2,000 people who have lost their jobs in the hospitality, retail and tourism trades as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is to be launched by the Government on Wednesday.

The sectors have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. A report produced for the Government in recent months acknowledged that up to 200,000 jobs could go in the tourism sector alone over the next year due to anti-virus restrictions.

A worst-case scenario of no overseas visitors for the remainder of the year, in addition to a 20 per cent decline in domestic tourism, could lead to an overall loss to the economy of €2.3 billion, it said.

Minister for Further Education Simon Harris will launch the new programme, which will be available through Skillnet Ireland, a business support agency of the Government mandated to advance businesses through enterprise-led workforce development.


It currently supports more than 18,000 businesses nationwide, and provides a wide range of learning experiences to 70,000 trainees.

The new initiative, called Skills Connect, aims to assist 2,000 people by the end of the year. It will be offered again next year when it is expected to grow the number of participants.

Software programming

It will offer reskilling and retraining in areas with employment potential including cyber security, software programming, digital marketing and customer service, free of charge.

West Pharma is one of more than 300 companies from an array of industries committed to the initiative through the provision of work placements, mentoring and other supports.

Mr Harris said the scheme was designed to help people who have been hit hardest by the pandemic to get back to work quickly.

“Throughout this pandemic we have been working hard to support our people and our workforce, particularly those of you who have lost your jobs as a result of Covid-19,” he said.

“We are investing in skills development to get people back to work quickly and help businesses get back on their feet.


“I am pleased to launch Skills Connect, a new training scheme from Skillnet Ireland, which was funded as part of the Government’s July Jobs Stimulus Package.

“Skillnet Ireland has an excellent track record of working with employers to deliver dynamic reskilling opportunities with work placements and employer mentoring.

“Skills Connect will be available nationwide across a wide range of areas such as cyber security, medtech, wind energy efficiency, organic farming and much more.

“There is no doubt that Ireland’s talented workforce will be key to our economic recovery. I would strongly encourage anyone who has lost their job as a result of Covid-19 to explore Skills Connect and see how it can support your career recovery.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter