Minister Harris announces new upskilling programme for workers in hospitality and tourism

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD has today announced two new upskilling programmes for people in the hospitality and tourism sector. These highly subsidised programmes are available to upskill staff across the country to support recovery and growth in hospitality and tourism.

The programmes have been developed by SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards in consultation with the Irish Hotels Federation, Fáilte Ireland and the Regional Skills Fora. One programme is to develop team leaders and the other to develop supervisory management capability, to assist recovery and growth in the hospitality and tourism sector.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “Covid-19 has hit the hospitality and tourism sector and those working in them extremely hard.

“However, this is not forever and the tourism and hospitality sector is vital to Ireland’s economic recovery. These two programmes offer an opportunity for employees and employers to upskill and will help staff deal with the new business environment, its challenges and opportunities.

 “This pandemic has taught us the value of what is on our doorsteps. We must help ensure the sustainability of the sector and help it grow.

The Developing Leaders for Hospitality and Tourism programme will upskill team leads and supervisory staff in critical areas including operations, finance, systems, and people management. This programme is part of the national Skills to Advance Further Education and Training initiative, which supports employers to develop their workforce and employees to avail of upskilling and reskilling opportunities. As a major employer in Ireland, the hospitality and tourism sector has identified the need to retain key talent and develop leadership capability to rejuvenate businesses for recovery and growth.

Flexibility is assured both in programme content and delivery schedules to meet the sector’s requirements. The focus on developing skills to future proof the workforce in vulnerable occupations, businesses and sectors is central to the strategic mission of the Skills to Advance Initiative. Recent events highlight that those in vulnerable sectors run the risk of being most at risk of job loss and need upskilling and reskilling to develop agile skills for employment.

Launching the initiative, Andrew Brownlee, CEO, SOLAS, said: “The Further Education and Training Sector is committed to upskilling and reskilling employees across all industries particularly those who are facing challenges or undergoing changes. These programmes are coming on stream at a time of unprecedented challenges for the Hospitality and Tourism sector and are designed in response to their needs. The excellent collaboration between the FET sector and industry bodies has meant that these programmes were developed in a short time period and with specific industry needs in mind.  It is a great example of how the FET sector can work with employers to future proof their workforces”.

Commenting on the collaboration, Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President at the IHF said:

“I would like to commend SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards throughout the country for this Skills to Advance initiative. It is a very opportune time for increased cooperation between hotels and ETBs to deliver training and upskilling support to their teams during these challenging times. Our primary goals are to protect & restore livelihoods in our hotel, guesthouse and broader tourism community across the country. These two hospitality training programmes are very relevant and support the development of the leadership and management skillsets required to recover and grow tourism in Ireland sustainably.  My industry colleagues and I look forward to collaborating and working in partnership on this very welcome & timely initiative.”

Tim Fenn, Chief Executive, IHF

“Our members remain committed to providing opportunities for career advancement and supporting continued professional training and development for their teams. With our global reputation for hospitality and proven quality product Irish tourism will recover from the pandemic. Hotel teams will play a critical part in this and so it is important to facilitate them with flexible ways to enhance their skills and achieve recognition for their qualifications. We encourage full support for this important and timely Skills to Advance Initiative.”

Jenny De Saulles, Director of Sector Development, Fáilte Ireland: "As we continue to navigate the impact of Covid-19 on tourism in Ireland, investing in our people and developing the skills of our tourism professionals will be a critical step in the recovery of the industry. There has already been positive collaboration between organisations and Fáilte Ireland is delighted to be participating in this Skills to Advance working group alongside our key stakeholders to help address the skills needs of the industry."

Speaking about the benefits of taking part, Natasha Kinsella, Regional Skills Manager, Dublin region, “We are delighted to be part of the collaboration between the ETBs and SMEs/enterprises within the Hospitality Tourism Sector to equip local companies with the necessary leadership and management skillsets to recover and grow their businesses.”

Ken Seery, FET Director of Kildare Wicklow ETB said: ‘KWETB is delighted to be involved in the national ‘Skills to Advance Hospitality Skills Initiative’.  The Hospitality sector, a key pillar of the Irish economy, has experienced significant challenges in the last year with the Coronavirus pandemic leading to repeated closure of hospitality services putting jobs at risk. The Hospitality Industry is built around consumer experiences and service delivery by a skilled workforce.   Retaining and attracting talent will be a priority.   The Hospitality Skills Initiative is a national collaboration between Hospitality Industry Bodies, Education and Training Boards and the Irish Government, supporting the sector by investing in its most integral element – its people.   This training is about preparing for the future, upskilling and working together to rebuild and train the hospitality leaders of the future’.

SOLAS, the ETBs and their enterprise partners encourage employers across the Hospitality and Tourism sector to avail of this opportunity to upskill team leads and supervisory staff at this critical time for business recovery. Employers across the country will benefit by having access to local high-quality training to deal with the new business environment, its challenges, and opportunities.

This Skills to Advance upskilling opportunity is being rolled out across the country by the ETBs from March.

Further information is available at and or by contacting your local Education and Training Board.


Contact: TBC Ciarán Garrett, Alice PR & Events, Tel: 087-7158912, Email:

Notes to Editors:  SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, a statutory agency under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills, was established in October 2013. Its role and functions are set out in the Further Education and Training Act, 2013. SOLAS is responsible for funding, coordinating and providing strategic direction to the Further Education and Training sector in Ireland. For more information, please visit

Further information on SOLAS can be found at: Follow SOLAS on Twitter: @solasfet


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