As the country prepares to adapt to further changes in the public health guidelines, the Education and Training Board (ETB), Further Education and Training services represented by ETBI are now in the process of communicating with their staff and learner on plans for the next term.

The ETB Further Education and Training service has remained open throughout Level 5 and is acutely conscious of the challenges faced by learners in the current context and of the flexibility shown by staff to continue to deliver high quality tuition. In order to provide some degree of certainty for learners for the New Year, Further Education and Training provision will remain at the current level where insofar as onsite presence is required and such education activities cannot be held remotely. At the commencement of the next term, Further Education and Training stakeholders will meet to discuss the phased step-down process from level 5 to the appropriate level: 4, 3 or 2 as per public health advice at that time. A considerate collaborative approach will be taken, which may lead to an increased onsite activity on the phased basis.

ETBI welcomes the guiding principles agreed following recent discussions with Minister Harris and his Department which will enable ETBs to plan in a manner that “is best suited to their own context and the requirements of their staff and students”. We share the ambition of the Minister for a measured and incremental increase in face-to-face activities on-campus where it is possible to do so safely. Commenting on plans for the next term, Paddy Lavelle, General Secretary of ETBI said: “Further Education and Training activities are building skill levels for over 300,000 beneficiaries in Ireland annually. It is really important that they continue for the learners who need hands-on interaction to develop those skills in areas including craft apprenticeship, beauty therapy, hairdressing, etc. Adult education in literacy and numeracy skills are also continuing in person so that no one is left behind.”

ETBI will continue to work with Minister Harris and his senior officials to respond positively to the changing levels of restrictions in the best interests of staff and learners.