4.0 Introduction

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This chapter outlines the current stock of skills within the economy, makes projections in relation to future skills supply and compares these skills supply projections with skills demand projections set out in Chapter Two.

The data in this chapter is classified using the CSO classification of educational attainment. The CSO data differs in format from the classifications used by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)86. Due to methodological differences in data classification, it was not possible to map CSO data in terms of the 10-level NFQ. However, the forward looking recommendations of this report are stated in terms of NFQ level. The NFQ is illustrated in Appendix J. The Expert Group believes that the NFQ is a vital tool in progressing the development of skills for a knowledge economy in Ireland and that the availability of data based on the NFQ is of the utmost importance.

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[86] NFQ Framework: The NFQ comprises ten levels of qualifications, with each level based on nationally agreed standards, skills and competence. These standards define the learning outcomes to be achieved by learners seeking qualifications at each level. The ten levels include qualifications gained in settings from schools, to places of work, the community, training centres and to colleges and universities, from the most basic to the most advanced levels of learning. The framework includes many existing qualifications and values those made in the past. Awarding bodies will also develop new qualifications within the NFQ. These new qualifications will be made on the basis of ‘learning outcomes’ defined in terms of standards of knowledge, skill and competence. The outcomes-based nature of qualifications in the framework is a significant change from the input-based (e.g. time served) nature of many existing qualifications.