Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien has said the ambitious reforming measures contained in the Education and Training Boards Bill (ETB) presents a unique opportunity to improve the delivery of further education and training across the State.
The Cork North Central Deputy made his comments after giving his party’s opening speech today in the Dáil at the being of the Second Stage Debate on the ETB Bill.
“The ETB Bill replaces the 33 Vocational Education Committees (VECs) with 16 new Training Boards in an overhaul that attempts to ensure the better delivery and coordination of education and training across this State. It sets out important changes which will give an expanded role to the newly constituted Training Boards and will, I hope, provide a modernised, more streamlined infrastructure that will underpin our competitiveness in a rapidly changing educational and business environment.
“For decades, VECs have been a key component in the delivery of education and training and their impending rationalisation presents opportunities and challenges that are part of a wider, multi-faceted legislative overhaul of the Irish further education and training sector. It is important, that the careful consideration is given to the make-up of the boards and in particular, the adult learning sector must be adequately represented.
“Replacing VECs with the training boards is happening in advance of the forthcoming legislation to establish SOLAS as a successor to FÁS and these important reforming measures are being made during one of the harshest economic periods in our recent history.
“The ETBs will have a key role in identifying, prioritising and improving the educational and training standards that are so important for our future economic prosperity. Sinn Féin will work to ensure a more collective approach involving the ETBS, that capitalises on economies of scale that would allow schools to work together to secure better deals on uniforms and text books which would have tangible benefits in terms of savings that could be passed on to hard pressed parents.
“In the face of spiralling unemployment it has never been more important to have in place training and educational opportunities that will allow those looking to learn new skills to find a place in a rapidly evolving workplace. This is an opportunity that may not present itself again for many years to come and these changes must be properly resourced if they are to be successful.”