A new roadmap for higher education has been described as 'a massive opportunity' for Ireland.
It has been launched by the newly-appointed Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris.
It sets out a five-year approach for the sector built around three key pillars of building skills, fostering inclusion and creating pathways to address economic challenges.
Minister Harris told Newstalk Breakfast: "I think it's a massive opportunity for our country now that we have a Government department, dedicated 100% of its time and energy, to further and higher education, research, innovation and science.
"So what can we do to make sure every single person in this country has opportunity to fulfill their ambition, to pursue their dreams, to get to where they want to get to with their career and their life.
"I think we have a bit of an untold story when it comes to further education.
"We have 200,000 people in Ireland engaged in further education, but I still think when many people - maybe Leaving Cert students or others - sit around the dinner table with mom or dad in the evening, I don't think we're talking enough about the opportunities posed by further education.
He said the new strategy is to "position the sector to be able to play its part in the economic challenges we face.
"What more can we do on apprenticeships, how can we make sure we've the skills that we need?
"But also what more can we do to make sure everybody has an opportunity who wants to have an opportunity to participate in further education."
"The target market isn't any one particular group, the target market is all of us."
He suggested:"There might be some people coming on who nearly feel a pressure: 'I must go the university route'.
"And what I want them to know is the university's in our country are brilliant, they've played a massive part, but there are also other options that may suit you."
"But it's not just about the kids sitting around the kitchen table, you might be a man or woman in your 40s who wants to up-skill, who wants to change your career direction.
"You might be somebody really interested in climate change who wants to help there and do a new course, you might be somebody who can't study full-time."
"The benefit of further education is we have a presence is every town, every county across the country - so it's a very flexible, agile way of learning".
The Department of Education says the strategy will "end the confusing array of vocationally focused programmes and replace it with a new Level 5 and Level 6 proposition".
It will also consolidate existing further education provision within a single, integrated college structure.
Traditional areas like healthcare, personal services and construction will be built on - while climate change and sustainable development will also be a critical focus.
"The strategy offers a new range of apprenticeships with a strong focus on increasing the diversity, with particular goals around increasing female participation and providing access to people with disabilities", the department adds.
More information can be found here