Main Types of Provision
The principal objectives of the measures and programmes funded by the Department in the area of FET are to:
Meet the needs of young early school-leavers;
Provide second-chance education for people who did not complete upper second level; and
Provide vocational preparation and training for labour market entrants and re-entrants.
The main providers of Further Education programmes are Education and Training Boards. Programmes are usually certified by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) and certification is a required option for all FE learners. Full-time programmes are:
Youthreach, for early school leavers between 15 – 20 years of age;
Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) for unemployed adults over 21 years of age;
Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) for learners over 16 years of age who have completed the Leaving Certificate (LC) or who are adults returning to education.
Part-time programmes are provided under:
The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI), free for adults with a less than upper second level education;
Adult Literacy (AL) for adults with specific needs in basic skills areas and includes English as a Second Language (ESOL) provision;
Community Education (CE) providing informal and non-formal education for hard-to-reach adults;
Self-financing education (evening classes) accessed by adults who pay a fee.
Supports provided for FE learners include:
The Adult Education Guidance Initiative (AEGI) which provides nationwide guidance for learners before, during and after they participate in BTEI, AL, CE or VTOS programmes;
Eligibility for participants in Youthreach, VTOS or BTEI for free childcare under the Childcare in Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, operated by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA).
Provision to Raise Achievement in Basic Skills
The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for devising policy and provision of funding in the area of Further Education and Training including for low skilled/qualified. SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority is responsible for allocating funding, planning and co-ordinating training and further education programmes. The Education and Training Boards are responsible for organising the delivery of tuition at local level.
Adult Literacy tuition is delivered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide. It is focused on those with low levels of literacy skills and includes English language tuition (ESOL) for adult immigrants and basic education services. Adult literacy, in addition to reading and writing, now extends to such basic education as numeracy, social and personal development, learning to learn and IT skills.
The target cohorts for adult literacy programmes are adults whose literacy and numeracy do not match those at level 3 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Within that target cohort there are individuals and groups, set out below, that experience particular and acute barriers to participation in adult learning identified in Government and EU documents:
The unemployed and in particular, the long term unemployed;
People with a disability;
Disadvantaged women and men, particularly those living in rural isolation;
Within the cohort of unemployed people and in the context of the current high levels of unemployment the following four areas have been identified as a priority:
The low skilled;
The long term unemployed;
Those formerly employed in declining sectors - construction, retail and manufacturing sectors.
It is recognized that there are some adults with upper second level education whose literacy and numeracy skills are less than or equivalent to NFQ Level 3 and ETBs may include this cohort in programmes.
There is no set number of tuition hours for most provision. 2 hours per week is the most common level of provision, although up to 6 hours per week is available under the intensive literacy option. A number of different initiatives have been developed to tackle adult literacy in addition to the general provision (2 hours/week). These include:
The Intensive Tuition in Adult Basic Education Programme (ITABE) which provides up to six hours of tuition per week to learners instead of the normal two hours;
A family literacy scheme to address poor literacy from an intergenerational family perspective;
A workplace literacy programme (Skills for Work).
There are other specific funding projects including literacy for deaf people, for people with dyslexia and for native Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas. The Adult Literacy service is free and confidential.
The Programme is funded by the Department through an annual grant to SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority. The Programme is part funded by the EU. In 2014, there were 65,000 beneficiaries (literacy 52,700 & ESOL 12,300).
Youthreach provides two years integrated education, training and work experience for unemployed early school leavers without any qualifications or vocational training who are between 15 and 20 years of age. There are almost 6,000 places available nationwide under the Youthreach umbrella. Almost 3,700 of these places are provided in Youthreach centres with the remainder in Community Training Centres. There is a strong emphasis on personal development, on the core skills of literacy/numeracy, communications and IT, along with a choice of vocational options and a work experience programme. Learners on the Youthreach programme receive a training allowances and meal, travel and accommodation allowances are also available. The Youthreach programme is funded by the Department of Education and Skills by way of annual grant, through SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority to the ETBs. The Programme is part funded by the EU.
Foundation and Progression courses provided in Community Training Centres (CTCs). CTCs are independent community-based organisations catering for the training and employment needs of early school leavers, primarily aged between 16 and 21. The training is certified leading to recognised awards on the National Framework of Qualifications. Examples of programmes offered include Initial Vocational Skills training, Information and Communication Technologies, including Database Applications, Desktop Publishing, Digital Media and Applied Employment Skills providing training in catering, IT, art and design, tiling and painting.
Bridging Foundation courses vary in length but typically are short-term in nature ie up to 3 months. These are basic skills programmes designed to bring the long-term unemployed closer to the labour market. It is aimed at those who do not have the education and/or skill levels to enter directly into specific training programmes including the unemployed and persons who are socially disadvantaged, both early school leavers and long term unemployed. The Programme is funded by the Department through an annual grant to SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority. The Programme is part funded by the EU under the ESF programme. In 2014, there were 2,652 beneficiaries on the Programme.
Provision to Achieve a Recognised Qualification during Adulthood Certification
The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for devising policy and provision of funding in the area of Further Education and Training including for low skilled/qualified. SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority is responsible for allocating funding, planning and co-ordinating training and further education programmes. The Education and Training Boards are responsible for organising the delivery of tuition at local level. The following programmes are funded from annual funding provided from the Department of Education and Skills directly or through SOLAS. SOLAS provides funding to the ETBs for their activities as set out in their annual services plans.
The Post Leaving Certificate (PLC), which was introduced in 1985, is a full time programme for learners who have completed their Leaving Certificate and for adults returning to education. The programme caters for those who require further vocational education and training to enhance their prospects of employment or progression to other studies. The Department of Education is responsible for devising policy and provision of funding in the area of Further Education and Training including for low skilled/qualified. SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority is responsible for allocating funding, planning and co-ordinating training and further education programmes. The Education and Training Boards are mainly responsible for operating the programme at local level. The programme also operates in a small number of schools around the country.
There are 32,688 approved PLC places available nationwide through ETBs and second level schools with a total of 34,094 learners enrolled in the 2013/2014 academic year. Providers receive a teaching allocation and non-pay capitation to meet overheads. Through the Higher Education Links Scheme, Post Leaving Certificate Courses provide an alternative route to higher education in the Institutes of Technology for those who have completed the Leaving Cert Applied programme, or who were unable to enter third level education after leaving school. Under the Higher Education Links scheme places on selected courses in the Institutes of Technology are allocated on the basis of attainment achieved in the FETAC Level 5 Awards by candidates on PLC courses. The majority of PLC courses lead to certification at either FETAC Levels 5 or 6; however, some courses lead to non-FETAC certification e.g. City and Guilds, BTEC, CIBTAC, ITEC etc. Most PLC courses are of one year's duration. However, some PLC courses provide for progression over 2 years and a small number are of 2 years' duration. Students can also apply for the Back To Education Allowance from the Department of Social Protection or the Student Support Grant.
The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) provides a range of part-time options across the full suite of Further Education programmes and it is free for adults with less than upper second level education. Target groups include adults with disabilities, lone parents, early school leavers, unemployed, Travellers, ex-offenders, homeless and people with literacy difficulties. Participants can access guidance and childcare supports. The programme’s aim is to give adults who wish to return to education an opportunity to combine their return to learning with family, work and other responsibilities. Programmes are offered on a part-time basis in the mornings, afternoons, evenings or at weekends. Under the BTEI a programme may be offered for as little as 1 hour per week or as much as 17 hours per week, depending on the needs and demands of the prospective learners. It is recommended that programme duration for individual learners (class contact hours) not exceed 400 hours per annum i.e. 400 hours over a twelve month period.
The Programme is publicly funded and delivered locally by the ETBs. The Programme is part funded by the EU under the ESF programme.
Provision Targeting the Transition to the Labour Market
The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for devising policy and provision of funding in the area of Further Education and Training including for low skilled/qualified. SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority is responsible for allocating funding, planning and co-ordinating training and further education programmes. The Education and Training Boards are responsible for organising the delivery of tuition at local level. The following programmes are funded from annual funding provided from the Department of Education and Skills to SOLAS. SOLAS provides funding to the ETBs for their activities or funds activities directly.
The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) is a full-time second chance education and training initiative, providing courses between Levels 3-6 on the NFQ to unemployed people over 21 years of age. The scheme provides up to two years vocational education and training is delivered and managed locally by the ETBs. Tuition, stationery and books are provided free of charge. VTOS participants can access the AEGI and childcare supports.
There are 5,000 VTOS places available nationally every year. Those participants who were previously in receipt of Job Assistance/Benefit (JA/JB) receive a training allowance in lieu of this payment from the relevant VECs. Those participants who were previously in receipt of another welfare payment, e.g. Disability Allowance/One Parent Family Payment, continue to be paid by D/SFA. All participants may be eligible for a range of additional allowances (meal and travel,) and these are all paid by the ETBs.
Specific Skills Training (Long) Courses typically take 6+ months to complete and are designed to meet the needs of industry across a range of sectors and are fully certified leading to a FETAC Award on the National Framework of Qualifications or certification from a recognised external accredited body. Examples of courses include; Computer Applications and Office Skills (25 weeks), Retail Skills Health and Beauty (37 weeks), Business Administration (40 weeks), IT Security Management (29 weeks), Business Process Improvement (20 weeks), Manual and Computerised Payroll and Book-keeping (20 weeks), Life Sciences Manufacturing Operations (47 weeks). Almost 11,000 beneficiaries participated on the programme in 2014.
Specific Skills Training (Short) are approximately 10 weeks in duration and were introduced to allow individuals to quickly upgrade their skills. The majority of the programmes on offer are FETAC or externally certified. Examples of courses include Kerb, Flag and Paviour Laying (6 weeks), Welding MMA Flat Horizontal (6 weeks), Domestic Solar Hot Water (5 weeks), Oil Fired Appliances Servicing (4 weeks), HGV (9 weeks), IT Applications (10 weeks). There were 5,470 beneficiaries on the programme in 2014. The Specific Skills Training programme is part funded by the EU under the ESF programme.
Traineeships typically take from 4-9 months to complete and provide occupation-specific training and integrate formal training and workplace coaching with a host employer. All programmes are fully certified leading to FETAC Major Awards, ranging from a Major Level 4 to a Major Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications, or certification from a recognised external accredited body. Examples include; Beauty Therapist (49 weeks), Outdoor Activity Instructor (45 weeks), Business Systems Service Technician (33 weeks), Office Administrator (50 weeks). In 2014, there were over 4,800 beneficiaries on the Traineeship programme. The Traineeship programme is part funded by the EU under the ESF programme.
Momentum - The Labour Market Education and Training Fund (LMETF) was established in 2012 to replace the Labour Market Activation Fund. As part of the Government’s “Action Plan for Jobs” initiative, SOLAS administer the Fund, with funding from the National Training Fund. The aim of the LMETF, branded as MOMENTUM, is to provide a range of quality, relevant education & training interventions for up to 6,500 long-term unemployed individuals. The scheme is intended to provide training and education solutions to the needs of both unemployed individuals and employers within the context of four themes. One of these themes is specifically targeted at the long-term unemployed aged under 25 and the other 3 themes - targeted at specific occupational clusters - are open to long-term unemployed of all ages. A design feature of Momentum provides for continuous evaluation of the programme to ensure that the training provided is effective, efficient and value for money. The Momentum programme is designed on a Deliverable Based Outcomes Model and project providers are only paid the full contract price on achievement of specific identified outcomes. Payments to providers are made on a phased basis, with the final payment being made when all training has been completed. The Momentum is part funded by the EU under the ESF programme.
Apprenticeship is a demand-driven, workplace and classroom, educational and training programme for employed people aimed at developing the skills of the apprentice to meet the needs of industry and the labour market. The Curriculum for each apprenticeship programme is based on uniform, pre-specified standards which are agreed and determined by industry. On successful completion of an apprenticeship, a FETAC Advanced Certificate is awarded; this is recognised internationally as the requirement for craftsperson status. On successful completion of an apprenticeship an apprentice is eligible for consideration for entry into related degree programmes provided by the Institutes of Technology providing he/she also meets other special entry requirements. The number of active apprentices in apprenticeship training with SOLAS at the end of the 2014 stood at 6,913. The number of apprentices being registered in 2015 by employers is 17% higher than the corresponding time in 2014. The increase in apprentice registration is primary being driven by employers in the electrical, engineering and motor sectors.
As part of the Government's Action Plan for Jobs initiative in 2013, an independent group was established to carry out a review of the Irish Apprenticeship system to determine whether the current model should be retained, adapted or replaced. The subsequent report of the Review Group made a wide number of recommendations regarding the reform of existing apprenticeships and the extension of the apprenticeship model into new enterprise areas. An Apprenticeship Implementation Plan was published in June 2014 in that regard.
A new industry-led Apprenticeship Council was appointed in November 2014 and is made up of a wide variety of stakeholders. In January 2015, the Apprenticeship Council formally invited proposals for new apprenticeship programmes from consortia of enterprise, professional bodies and education and training providers. Over 80 separate proposals were received in response to the call for proposals. They have been assessed by the Apprenticeship Council against a range of sustainability and deliverability criteria. The Council's report with recommendations on proposals that should be developed into apprenticeships is under consideration by the Minister.
Specialist Training Providers deliver specially designed training interventions for persons with a disability. While people with disabilities are encouraged to avail of mainstream training, in situations where clients require more intensive support, Specialist Training Providers are contracted by SOLAS to provide this client group with more intensive support. The features of this specialist vocational training include: Additional training duration; Adapted equipment; Transport arrangements; and Enhanced programme content. In 2014, there were 3,400 beneficiaries on the programme.
Local Training Initiatives (LTI) are project-based training and work experience programmes carried out in the local community (includes Wider Horizons, a North South initiative, which runs for an average period of 20 weeks). Training on Local Training Initiatives is certified and leads to recognised awards on the National Framework of Qualifications at levels 3, 4 and 5. Examples include the FAI/FÁS Soccer Programme in Castlebar, Abbeyfeale Radio Production and Galway Family History (48 weeks). The LTI programme is focused on addressing the training needs of economically, socially, geographically or educationally disadvantaged unemployed learners. Learners are primarily 35 years of age or under, with no formal qualifications or incomplete secondary level qualifications. The overall aim of the Programme is to provide participants with specific vocational skills, including general, ICT skills and work experience. The context of training delivery is focused on the progression of projects for the community, which provides the opportunity for learners to apply their newly developed vocational skills in a work based context. In 2014 there were 4,500 beneficiaries across the range of levels of tuition provided on the programme.
Skillnets, established in 1999, funds and facilitates training through over 50 networks of private sector companies, in a range of sectors and regions. The Skillnets model funds enterprise-led training networks nationwide.
These networks identify their own common training needs, typically on a regional or sectoral basis. They also source their own training providers and develop their own learning solutions. This ensures projects remain enterprise-led and aligned with their needs. Skillnets support and fund networks of enterprises to engage in training under the Training Networks Programme (TNP). Each network delivers training that is relevant to specific industry and member company needs. Skillnets networks arrange relevant, cost-effective and innovative training courses for their member companies. Skillnets also provides training opportunities to the unemployed through its Job Seeker Support Programme (JSSP) as well as through the provision of training alongside employed trainees through its TNP provision. Skillnets is funded by the Department of Education and Skills through an annual grant in the region of €16 million from the National Training Fund.
Over the last several years the strategic direction of Skillnets has been adapted and fine-tuned to respond to the need for investment in our people, both employed and unemployed, to develop sustainable economic growth for the country. A new mandate and funding agreement agreed with Skillnets replacing the previous mandate which expired at end of 2010 takes account of the additional focus on an element of training for the unemployed, new strategic areas of emphasis, the further reduction of administration costs, corporate governance and various technical matters.
A number of new initiatives have been developed to respond to the jobs challenge.
Training Networks Programme (TNP) – The main focus of Skillnets Skillnets training networks are groups of private sector companies based in Ireland, in the same sector and/or region that have come together to carry out training-related activities that may not be possible on their own. Member companies, and their employees, are directly involved in the identification, design, delivery and evaluation of training.
Finuas Networks Programme (Finuas) – a similar programme dedicated to the International Financial Services sector.
Job-seekers Support Programme fund (JSSP)
Management Development Network (MDN) – A pilot programme to increase the level of management skills in SMEs as recommended by the Management Development Council (MDC).
Future Skills Needs Programme fund (FSNP)
New Certified Programme Development fund (NCPD)
In line with a funding mandate between Skillnets and the Department, Skillnets are required to provide training programmes for up to 40,000 individuals. 32,000 of these places are for people who are currently in employment. These programmes allow them to up-skill or re-skill in certain areas. The remaining 8,000 places are targeted at the unemployed to allow them to acquire the skills necessary to take up employment as the economy recovers.
Provision of Liberal (Popular) Adult Education
Community Education is delivered outside the formal education sector. Its aim is to enhance learning, foster empowerment and contribute to civic society. It is located in communities which can be area-based or issue-based. It is firmly community-based, with local groups taking responsibility for, and playing a key role in, organising courses and deciding on programme-content.
The education and training boards are the largest, most common, providers of Community Education tuition for adults in Ireland. The Department of Education and Skills provides annual funding for community education activities to SOLAS. SOLAS provide funding to the ETBs as part of the annual services plan process for their community education activities. There are also a range of community groups, mainly not for profit, providing community education in Ireland.
Community Education provision includes basic skills, ICT for adults, learning to learn, personal development, community development and some hobby type courses.The grants provided by the Department to the ETBs are to enable disadvantaged adults to avail of community education at minimal or no cost. This is usually allocated through the provision of teaching hours, or small grants, to a range of community and voluntary groups for educational activities. The nature and extent of provision varies greatly. Courses are generally short in nature 10- 15 weeks but longer courses up to 1 year are also provided. The number of hours of tuition per week ranges from 2-4 hours.
Target groups for community education programmes, as set out below, (as identified in Government and EU policy documents such as the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion), include individuals and groups that experience particular and acute barriers to participation in adult learning, in particular those who wish to access learning locally, as a step to more active community involvement or certified learning.
Adults with low or no formal qualifications or low literacy levels, especially those with less than upper second level education or NFQ Levels 1-3, or equivalent;
The unemployed and in particular, the long term unemployed;
One parent families;
People with a disability;
Disadvantaged women and men, particularly those living in rural isolation or RAPID areas;
Underemployed/sessional and seasonal workers;
Dependents of those who are unemployed;
Low skilled people outside the labour force.
In 2014, there were 61,000 beneficiaries on the Community Education Programme. The annual budget is in the region of €10 million.
Other Types of Publicly Subsidised Provision for Adult Learners
The Co-operation hours scheme is a longstanding arrangement under which Education and Training Boards (ETBs) provide teaching services to other Institutions as part of the remit of the ETBs to provide for continuing education in their areas. “Co-operation Hours” provision is not a scheme in itself. It is an allocation mechanism to support specific objectives. The Co-operation hours scheme provides for tuition by ETB employed staff in Community Training Centres, Prisons, REHAB workshops, Hospitals, Centres for the Unemployed and Day Care Centres. The Scheme is publicly funded.