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ETBI Welcomes Publication of Strategy Document for Further Education and Training (FET) Sector

ETBI General Secretary, Michael Moriarty today welcomed the publication of the Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019.

According to Mr Moriarty, “the publication of the Strategy is another timely and critical step towards establishing a world-class Further Education and Training sector for Ireland, that will be valued at home and abroad, and have the clear capacity to provide the skills and competences that Irish citizens require to make the most of their lives – in the home, in the community, and in the workplace.”

In particular Mr Moriarty welcomed the following.

  • The commitment to strategic planning and oversight, with all entities collaborating with a common purpose to provide an integrated and targeted delivery of Further Education programmes right across the country – something ETBI has sought for years so that the sector can be supported in terms of structure, finance and strategies;
  • The recognition of the need for capital budgets to ensure that the buildings and facilities used to deliver Further Education and Training match those in 1st, 2nd and 3rd level education.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that many of the facilities used by FET students are not fit-for-purpose,” said Mr Moriarty. “Most recently, this situation was underlined by the exclusion of Further Education colleges from the Summer Works Scheme.  The recognition of the need for capital budgets must not remain aspirational. ETBI will be campaigning to secure a capital budget for FET facilities.”

Mr Moriarty continued:

  • “All ETBs will need appropriate structures and supports to meet the challenges of the FET Strategy. For too long, the FET sector has survived on a shoe-string without real and focussed support from the state. ETBI’s expectation is that FET will be appropriately resourced to deliver on the targets set by government.”
  • “This resourcing will also need to extend an appropriate investment in qualification and continuous professional development of those who deliver FET programmes. If up-skilling the workforce is a key task for Further Education and Training, then the up-skilling of those who undertake that work must be seen as a matter of high priority.”
  • “ETBI supports fully the proposal for greater engagement with employers. Shortly, employer organisations will nominate their representatives to Education and Training Boards (ETBs), and this will go some way to bridging the gap between FET provision and the world of work. In addition, there will also now be opportunities for ETBs to establish sub-committees with representation from local employers. All of this will secure the on-going input of employers into Further Education and Training.”
  • “FET colleges remain locked in the 2nd level system, which bears no practical relationship to their operational realities. ETBI will be seeking the engagement of all stakeholders (DES/SOLAS/ETBs and relevant trade unions), to put in place a fit-for-purpose college structure which meets the needs of both staff and learners. The current situation cannot remain in place any longer.”
  • “The commitment to putting in place an integrated learner and course database is essential to the effective implementation of the Strategy.  For too long, all involved with the planning for and delivery of Further Education and Training have been hampered by the lack of easily accessible data. Once the database comes on-stream, the work of policy-makers and practitioners will be hugely facilitated.”

In concluding his remarks, Mr Moriarty said:

“Our preoccupation with third level education has blinded us for too long to the reality that, as studies in the US and Europe so clearly demonstrate, by 2020 some two-thirds of all jobs will still require mid- to low-level skills.  Hopefully, the Strategy will enable us to address this reality – a reality that, left unaddressed, will condemn large cohorts of Irish citizens to permanent exclusion from the workforce.”

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