25 November, 2016 - Minister Bruton to hold first of series of Regional Meetings on Action Plan for Education

Minister of State Halligan to Chair Waterford meeting, focused on further education, training and apprenticeships  

The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton TD will hold the first in a series of Regional meetings on the Action Plan for Education today (Friday 25th November) in the Waterford Training Centre. The first meeting with be chaired by Minister of State, John Halligan.

The purpose of the series of meetings is to outline the Government's Action for Education and to detail the steps we are taking to make Ireland the best education and training system in Europe within a decade. Minister Bruton and Minister of State Halligan will hear ideas and feedback from education stakeholders and employers from across the region on the plan which was published in September, and this will feed into the development of Action Plan for Education 2017.

This model of town hall style meeting is built on a successful series of meetings which the Minister held each year during his time as Minister for Jobs.

While the first forum will focus on the Further Education and Training Sector, including apprenticeships, future forums will focus on a range of other areas, including continuous professional development for teachers, wellbeing, technology and skills.

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD said:

“The basic aim of this Government is to sustain our economic progress and use it to build a fair and compassionate society.

“Our ambition in the Action Plan for Education is to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe. This will mean that we can create a fairer society by providing better opportunities for more people from disadvantaged groups, as well as ensuring we create more sustainable well-paying jobs.

“A key part of all this is talking to the people on the ground, who are using and delivering education services on the front line across the country. That is why we are holding a series of meetings across all regions of the country, explaining to people what is contained in the Action Plan we have published, and listening to their ideas on what we can do to include improved and more ambitious actions in the plans for 2017 and future years.

“Today in Waterford in particular I hope to have a constructive and positive discussion on further education sector and apprenticeships, which are an integral part of addressing existing and future skills needs. In many other European countries, apprenticeships account for a greater proportion of the school-leaving cohort than in Ireland, meaning that there are robust alternative pathways for people with different types of skills, as well as another source of skills supply for employers.

“I look forward to participating in more meetings like this around the country in the coming weeks and months to hear more from the people on the ground as to what more Government can do to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe."

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, John Halligan TD said:

“As Minister for Training and Skills, I am delighted to be here today, it is great to see that this Forum recognises that while this region is quite dispersed in terms of centres of population, there is consensus that all in the region need to act together to better support the skills needs of enterprise. Alongside this there is also a recognised need to offer supports and education and training courses to all learners including jobseekers, in skills areas where there are employment opportunities.”


For further information please contact the Department of Education and Skills Press Office:



Notes for Editor:

The Action Plan for Education

The first Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 was launched by the Government in September 2016 with the ultimate challenge of building on and reforming the existing Irish Education and Training System, to establish the system as the best in Europe by 2026.

The Plan focuses on five key goals, which cover the span of education and training services:

1.       Improve the learning experience and the success of learners

2.       Improve the progress of learners at risk of educational disadvantage or learners   with special educational needs

3.       Help those delivering education services to continuously improve

4.       Build stronger bridges between education and the wider community

5.       Improve national planning and support services


The Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 is a statement of the ambition of the entire Government for the Irish education and training service, and an action plan laying out how to start to achieve that.

Being the lead in Europe means an ambition to be the best at:

·         Harnessing Education to break down barriers for groups at risk of exclusion

·         Delivering a learning experience to highest international standards

·         Equipping learners of all ages and capacities to participate and succeed in a changing world

·         Allowing Ireland to be a leader across a broad range of fields, scientific, cultural, enterprise and public service

Excellent and innovative education and training are the pivot around which personal fulfilment, a fair society and a successful nation should revolve. It is central to sustaining economic success and in converting economic success into building a strong community.

Like in Jobs, there is no big bang solution. Rather, the cumulative impact of the implementation of the hundreds of actions and sub actions in the Action Plan will have a lasting and positive impact on the Irish educational and training sector.

Some examples of what success will look like:

·         Significantly reducing the gap with the top European performers in areas of numeracy and science.

·         Continuing to improve retention rates at second-level in DEIS schools, from their current rate of 82.7% to the national norm, currently 90.2%, by 2025.

·         Increasing by 7 points (equivalent to 30%) the proportion of students at risk of disadvantaged who proceed to Higher Education.

·         Systematically reducing the skills gap in areas of critical skill need in Higher Education by providing for 50,000 upskilling and reskilling places.

·         Developing a strong stream of employer supported apprenticeships and traineeships, providing places for 13,000 young people in 2020, in 100 career areas.

·         Broadening the choice of schools available each year in line with the target of 400 multi/non-denominational by 2030.

Regional Skills Fora

Following on from the launch of the National Skills Strategy, nine Regional Skills Fora are now in place throughout the country and a Regional Skills Manager has been appointed to lead the activities of each Forum. The Managers will be required to establish and manage a strong network of working relationships between the stakeholders in the region, with particular focus on liaison between enterprise and education and training stakeholders in advancing the objectives of the Skills Forum. The Regional Skills Fora have developed work plans and will submit progress reports to the Department on a quarterly basis. Each Regional Skills Manager is a member of the implementation group on each of their Regional APJs.

A Regional Skills Website www.regionalskills.iewas launched in May 2016 as a communication tool for employers and education and training providers.  By using the data from the SOLAS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit, the website provides access to a detailed profile for each of the 9 Regions drawn from all relevant skills research and datasets to provide the basis for informed dialogue on skills needs.

The South East Regional Skills Fora (SERSF)

The SERSF is one of nine Fora recently established under the National Skills Strategy 2025 which also includes the establishment of the National Skills Council.

The core objectives of each Fora manager is to:

foster and facilitate greater engagement between the education and training system, employers and other local stakeholders

help employers better understand and access the full range of services available across the education and training system;

identify and provide more evidence based regional labour market information and analysis of employer needs

provide better alignment of education and training provision with the skills needs of each region;

The South East Regional Skills Forum Comprises:

IT Carlow, Waterford IT, LIT Tipperary,

Tipperary ETB, Waterford/Wexford ETB, Kilkenny/Carlow ETB, Skillnets, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Chambers of Commerce, Local Enterprise Offices, IBEC, CIF, Industry

The SERSF has decided to focus upon the following sectors pharma/medtech, engineering, ag/food, construction, global business services and hospitality

Summary of initiatives involving employer engagement and the SERSF

Waterford Wexford ETB developing a career traineeship for the engineering / manufacturing sector.

Kilkenny Carlow ETB are developing a career traineeship in Animation in response to a demand from a company in the area that is planning an expansion and are assessing the demand for a career traineeship in Engineering

Tipperary ETB are considering career traineeships in hospitality and pharma.

IT Carlow launched the first ever Brewing & Distilling Degree for the brewing and distilling sectors in the South East