SOLAS will lead the process of revitalising the Further Education and Training Sector
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., today published the Further Education and Training Bill 2013.
The Bill provides for the establishment of SOLAS, the new Further Education and Training Authority, under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills.
This is a key part of major reform of the Further Education and Training sector being implemented by Minister Quinn and Minister of State Ciarán Cannon T.D.
SOLAS will lead the process of revitalising the sector and will be responsible for co-ordinating and funding programmes across the country.
The new Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and other providers will carry out training on the ground. Separate legislation is currently going through the Oireachtas to replace the 33 Vocational Education Committees with 16 ETBs.
The SOLAS Bill also provides for the disbanding of FÁS. Existing FÁS training centres will come under the remit of the ETBs.
Commenting on the draft legislation, Minister Quinn said, “Given the problems we face with unemployment, it is more important than ever before that the Further Education and Training sector is ‘fit-for-purpose’ for all learners. I believe that SOLAS will bring a much needed focus to this part of our education system for the first time.
“SOLAS will help to implement the Government’s Pathways to Work Strategy and will concentrate particularly on supports for the unemployed and long-term unemployed. “
Minister Cannon who chairs the SOLAS Implementation Group, paid tribute to the other members of the Group and to the staff of FÁS and the VECs who are implementing changes at local level.
Minister Cannon said, “It is important to highlight that SOLAS will not simply be a re-branded FÁS.
“We are learning from our experience of FÁS to help develop the new agency; we want SOLAS to work with ETBs and other service providers to harness what is good about our further education and training system and make it even better for users.
“To help with this, we have listened to learners and staff and continue to use their valuable input in making decisions.”
The Action Plan for the establishment of SOLAS was completed recently and is available on the Department’s website. This includes detailed plans for the transfer of FÁS training centres to the new ETBs.
The Further Education and Training Bill is available to download on the Oireachtas website (www.oireachtas.ie) and the Department’s website (http://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Legislation/Further-Education-and-Training-Bill-2013.pdf).
Notes for Editors
The main provisions of the Bill are:
- A new Further Education and Training Authority (SOLAS) will be established.
- SOLAS will be responsible for the development, co-ordination and funding of further education and training under the direction of the Minister for Education and Skills.
- The SOLAS Board will consist of 11 members with relevant expertise, appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills, after consultation with both the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Minister for Social Protection.
- FÁS will be dissolved and FÁS training centres will be transferred to the ETBs.
- Certain staff will be transferred to the ETBs.