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Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

Theme 6

Theme 6 Continuing vocational education and training6.1 General backgroundThere is no single system in Ireland delivering either IVET or CVET but rather a range oforganisations who deliver programmes both for young people who have just completed theircompulsory education and for those who wish to upgrade their skills having completed initialeducation and training. As a result of this, there is a significant crossover between the IVET andCVET qualification systems as they are not designed as separate systems. For example, most VECcourses and courses provided by publicly-funded agencies (eg FÁS, Teagasc etc) can and doequally serve for both IVET and CVET. It is the status of the learner that determines whether theeducation/training is initial or continuing rather than the system itself.Ireland’s CVET policies reflect the Government’s commitment to Lifelong Learning. They focus onimproving access to training, the development of new skills, the acquisition of recognisedqualifications and progression to higher level qualifications. As noted in Section 4.4. above, themain legislation governing CVET includes the White Paper on Adult Education 2000, the Reportof the Taskforce on Lifelong Learning 2002, the National Skills Strategy 2007 and the NationalStrategy for Higher Education 2011. Currently, the Governments’ key priorities for theimplementation of a framework for Lifelong Learning are set out in the ‘National Skills Strategy 58 ’(NSS) published in 2007. These priorities include:• addressing skill needs and widening access to lifelong learning in the context of anintegrated approach to education and training;• tackling disadvantage in terms of literacy and numeracy, early school leaving and providingsecond chance education and training for those with low skills;• addressing ‘access’ barriers through the strengthening of financial supports, guidance,counselling and childcare services and increased flexibility of provision.The National Skills Strategy seeks to achieve a significantly improved educational profile for thelabour force through setting out the following targets:• The setting of a long-term target for 500,000 adults to increase their levels of educationattainment by at least one level on the National Framework of Qualifications. The aim is toup-skill 250,000 people from NFQ level 3 (Junior Cert equivalent) to level 5 (Leaving Certequivalent); 140,000 from level 5 to level 6/7 (advanced certificate/ordinary degree); 70,000from level 1 or 2 (school dropout) to level 3 and 30,000 from level 4/5 to level 8 (honoursdegree or above) 59 .• Ensure that the output from the education system reaches its potential, through improvingparticipation rates in upper secondary level to 90% and ensuring the progression rate to thirdlevel increases to 70%.Funding for adult education and training (see also 10.3) has been substantially increased since2000, with specific emphasis on a range of existing and new initiatives designed to improve theparticipation of adults with low levels of education attainment. Historically many of these initiativeswere co-financed through the European Social Fund, but since 2000 the main source of funding foradult education is the Irish Exchequer.58The National Skills Strategy.59An implementation statement for the Skills Strategy circulated by DES in 2010 found that while good progress hadbeen made, more needed to be done particularly in regard to upskilling those at levels 1-3 to Levels 4 and 5 on the NFQ(EQF levels 3 and 4).62

Central government funds providers directly through the Department of Education and Skills. OtherDepartments such as Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Transport, Tourism and Sport alsoprovide funding for their sectors. Funding for work-based learning is also provided through theNational Training Fund administered by FÁS.Over the past two decades a system of National Partnership Agreements has been in place 60 ,comprising the government and the social partners (trade unions, employers, farming organisationsand the community and voluntary sector). Every three years the social partners agreed a nationalprogramme for social and economic development which included policies relating to VET. TheNational Social Partnership Agreement ‘Towards 2016’, the ‘National Action Plan for SocialInclusion 2007-2016’ and the current Programme for Government 2011, have all re-emphasised thegovernment’s commitment to lifelong learning. The social partners also have a place in theirrepresentative capacity, within the structures established by the State, to meet the country's generalVET needs - they are represented on the Boards and/or Advisory Committees of FÁS, FáilteIreland, Teagasc, the National Apprenticeship Advisory Committee and the Expert Group on FutureSkill Needs. They also have a representative role on the NCCA, on the awarding bodies FETACand HETAC and the NQAI. They also have a consultative role in the allocation of funds for trainingschemes and programmes under the employer-levied National Training Fund.There are a number of support bodies and institutions who are involved in bringing learning closerto learners. These include:AONTAS - the Irish National Adult Learning Organisation, a voluntary organisation supportedmainly by public funding. Its main goal is the promotion of the development of a learning societythrough the provision of a quality and comprehensive system of adult learning and education whichis accessible to and inclusive of all.The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) is also a voluntary organisation supported mainlyby public funding. It lobbies for policy development in adult literacy and provides a range ofservices to adults with literacy difficulties and to adult literacy trainers in the Vocational EducationCommittees and other bodies.The Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA) is the national representative body chargedwith representing Vocational Education Committees. The IVEA is charged with protecting,promoting and enhancing the interests of vocational education and training within Ireland. TheGeneral Secretary of the IVEA also sits on the Board of FÁS.AEGIS (The Adult Education Guidance and Information Service) provides an education guidanceservice for adults, which is about connecting adults with learning opportunities, especially related toadults who left school early and wish to re-enter the formal education system.The National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) is funded by the Department ofEducation and Skills (DES) and plays a role in developing quality career guidance in Ireland. Itsmain functions are to develop and evaluate guidance practice and material in all areas of education;provide technical advice and organise in-career development training, as well as contributing topolicy formation in the field of guidance, including supporting teachers and guidance counsellors.The management committee is appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills.The Up-skilling Co-ordination Group was established in 2007. The purpose of the group is to60Ireland’s social partnership model has recently been weakened to some extent as a result of the severity of therecession and the deterioration of the Irish economy leading to scarce public resources.63

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