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Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

Ireland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2011 - Europa

examinations and acts as the awarding body for schools awards/qualifications which areaccommodated in the National Framework of Qualifications.With regard to measures that have been taken during the last number of years to facilitate thematching of VET provision with the identified skill needs of the labour market outlined above (8.1),the 2011 ‘Programme for Government’ states that with regard to second level education:• Maths and science teaching at second level will be reformed, including making science acompulsory Junior Cert subject by 2014. Professional development for maths and scienceteachers will be prioritised.• A bonus points system for maths, which is linked to specific maths or science courses, willbe introduced to encourage greater participation in courses where skills shortages currentlyexist.• A national literacy strategy for children and young people will be developed as a matter ofurgency, with school-level targets that are related to national targets. Every school will berequired to have a literacy action plan, with demonstrable outcomes. Responsibility forachieving these outcomes will be vested in the school principals, who will also receivecontinuous professional development to support the implementation of the strategy.• Pre-service and in-service training in teaching of literacy for all primary and secondaryschool teachers will be improved, with dedicated literacy mentors to work intensively withteachers in most disadvantaged primary schools.• A new plan to develop ICT in teaching, learning and assessment will be developed. Thisplan will incorporate the integration of ICT policy across other agencies, such as theProfessional Development Services for Teachers, the State Examinations Commission, andProject Maths.The senior educational cycle is currently undergoing a significant phase of review. A number ofareas are prioritised for development and are at various stages of progress. These include thedevelopment of more flexible programmes of learning, outcomes-based syllabuses for subjects andshort courses and the development of key skills and new ways of assessing them.‘Project maths’ (which commenced in 24 schools in 2008) is being rolled out in all schools sinceSeptember 2010. This initiative is not only revising the entire second-level Mathematics syllabusbut is doing it in a new way, involving an intense engagement by schools and teachers in the actualprocess of course design and development. The significance of Project Maths therefore lies not onlyin its outputs, but in its very processes. The maths teachers in the 24 initial schools are beingsupported by a full-time team, through seminars and workshops, school visits and online resourcesfor teaching and learning. Teachers in all other schools have had a series of workshops andseminars and will continue to receive regular professional development. Additional support willalso be provided and the range of online resources will be extended, based on the developments andrefinements in the initial 24 schools.Language syllabuses are also undergoing review and committees are currently considering theassessment of the languages. Resource materials have been developed for the embedding of keyskills in teaching and learning.94

The 2011 ‘Programme for Government’ states that with regard to adult and further education,“Lifelong learning, community education and vocational training for jobseekers will be a highpriority. We will expand training options for jobseekers across the VEC, further and highereducation sectors to facilitate upskilling of the labour force. We will address the widespread andpersistent problem of adult literacy through the integration of literacy in vocational training andthrough community education”.At IVET and CVET level a very wide range of courses are provided through the VECs and FÁSincluding a range of adult and community education courses which cater for the literacy, numeracyand ICT needs of adults. On an annual basis, with advice from its Skills and Labour MarketResearch Unit, and inputs from the EGFSN (see 8.1 above), FÁS arranges for the provision of arange of courses and in recent years FÁS has developed new courses to meet emerging labourmarket and skills needs in the areas of services, ICT, medical devices, food, biopharma occupationsand green energy.The VECs deliver further education programmes in line with operational guidelines (for part-timeprogrammes) and circulars (full-time programmes). The VECs network with local and regionalstakeholders, including employers and non-governmental organisations, as well as nationally, withvarious representative organisations, through the Irish Vocational education Association, in order toinform delivery. Both the VECs and FÁS have been developing and re-developing curricula to meetthe needs of FETAC’s new Common Awards System (CAS).As noted in section 8.1 above, in conjunction with enterprise, the Expert Group on Future SkillsNeeds identifies the specific skills needs for many key sectors of the economy. The steering groupsfor the following EGFSN reports will reconvene in 2011 to review progress on implementation ofthe recommendations made in the reports :• Future Skills Needs of Enterprise within the Green Economy in Ireland (publishedNovember 2010)• Future Skills Requirements of the Biopharma-Pharmachem Sector (published November2010)• Future Skills Needs of the Wholesale and Retail Sector (published May 2010)The social partners have always played a role in VET in Ireland. The setting up of the NationalTraining Fund (NTF) in 2000 gave the social partners, and in particular employers, a policyconsultation forum regarding the allocation of funding for skills training for the employed.Employers and unions are represented on the Board and sub-Boards of the main vocational trainingproviders and both employers and unions are also represented on the EGFSN to assist in theidentification of specific skill and qualification needs. They also have representation on the AwardsCouncils FETAC and HETAC.95

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