"The proposed establishment of both SOLAS and a distinct Further Education sector represents the most extensive overhaul of Irish skills training in many decades," says General Secretary Michael Moriarty in his address to IVEA Congress 2012 in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Co Cavan, today, 12th September 2012. He continued:
"Further education is to be amalgamated with skills training, and both will be delivered by the proposed Education and Training Boards (ETBs) under the strategic guidance of SOLAS, the new Further Education and Training (FET) authority. This mainstreaming of the FET sector brings it centre stage as a stand-alone sector similar to the First, Second and Third Level sectors.
The re-focus of FET on the world of work and the skills needs of job seekers and other learners will streamline a more efficient service, from government policy level, to SOLAS strategic level, to Education and Training Board (ETB) implementation level.
SOLAS will not be 'FÁS 2', as the direct training provision will now be the responsibility of ETBs, which will deliver training programmes directly, or through contracted services. SOLAS and ETBs will agree annual Service Level Agreements to define their respective relationships and roles.
ETBs will not be bigger VECs, and their direct links with the local authority structure will be severed. ETBs will be more akin to agencies of the Department of Education and Skills."
Mr Moriarty concluded:
"The transfer of the current sixteen FÁS Training Centres to the ETBs has not been fully appreciated for what this will mean. For example, FÁS currently targets up to 87,000 learners annually, with an average of 22,000 learners participating monthly. The responsibility for this training will now rest with the ETBs, which must mean that the footprint of the ETBs will certainly be more pronounced in their local communities as they will have greatly extended responsibilities across the entire spectrum of education and training."
 


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