The funding is a joint investment by the Irish Government and the European Union under the European Social Fund Plus. €573 million will come from the Irish Government and €508 million from the European Union, for the period until 2027.

The European Social Fund (ESF) is the EU's principal body for investing in people, improving employment and education opportunities, as well as enhancing social inclusion and tackling poverty.

Speaking today, Minister Simon Harris said: “Ireland’s European Social Fund Plus programme is about investing in our people. The funding will be used to support a wide range of initiatives including upskilling and reskilling, lifelong learning, social inclusion, and social innovation, with an emphasis on young people, and most at-need groups.”

The investment will be focused on four priorities: Access to employment; skills and lifelong learning; tackling poverty and social exclusion; and social innovation.

Almost half of the funding, nearly €499 million, will be directed towards tackling poverty and social exclusion, especially among people from disadvantaged communities and children’s services, as well as promoting equal opportunities for everyone in society, regardless of their background.

More than €180 million will be spent on driving employment, with a particular focus on young people and the long-term unemployed.

A further €281 million will go towards upskilling, reskilling, and promoting lifelong learning, including entrepreneurial and digital skills, and assisting with promoting professional mobility.

Among the new measures will be a €31 million investment in upskilling childcare workers, and an investment of €11 million investment in sport for social inclusion innovations.

The total amount of investment being made available under the ESF+ Programme is over €1 billion.