On 8th December, 2023 the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, announced a pilot of a new Nurturing Skills Learner Fund. The new Fund aims to assist early years educators to pursue early learning and care (ELC) qualifications that have been approved by the Qualifications Advisory Board (QAB) while continuing to work in the sector, in line with commitments in Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare, 2022-2028.

The Nurturing Skills Learner Fund pilot will make a significant contribution to course fees that early years educators face while pursuing QAB-approved ELC qualifications at levels 7 and 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications. The funding will be paid directly to the higher education institution on behalf of the early years educator in order to minimise the financial and administrative barrier the educator faces when seeking to undertake further studies.

The new Nurturing Skills Learner Fund scheme will run as a pilot in 2024. Applications for the Pilot Nurturing Skills Learner Fund will open in May 2024, via Pobal, to early years educators who have applied to approved higher education institutions , with a view to educators who are selected for the pilot receiving financial support for studies commencing in September 2024.

This new scheme will run in conjunction with the current Learner Fund scheme, which will continue to be administered by the County/City Childcare Committees.

Read the full press release here