The Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., has today appointed the former General Secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI), Mr Patrick King, to work with relevant stakeholders to explore the potential to address some of the employment related issues that have arisen in the English language education sector.
In appointing Mr. King, Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated, “My key objective is to ensure that Ireland has an English language sector that we can all have confidence in and which provides a quality education to international students coming to Ireland to learn English. Teachers and staff are a central element in ensuring the quality of that educational provision.”
Mr King will be looking to meet with employer and employee representative bodies early in 2019 to identify and discuss relevant issues. Mr. King’s role will be to explore whether there is scope for a set of minimum employment standards that could be agreed for the sector, and which could form the basis of a Registered Employment Agreement.
Interested parties are also being encouraged to make a submission with their views on relevant issues that will assist Mr. King in his work. A dedicated email address is now open to receive submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor encouraged bodies representing both employers and employees in the commercial English language education sector to engage with the mediation process:
“This is the first time that the Department of Education and Skills has committed to a mediation process. There is a real opportunity here to inform future developments in the English language education sector that will benefit both employers and employees. I call on both employers and staff representative bodies to actively engage with Mr. King to explore the potential to address the employment related issues that have been so damaging to the sector in the recent past. This will be a positive benefit to the sector as a whole and will support the objectives of Ireland’s International Education Strategy by strengthening the quality of our English language sector.”
The mediation process complements the provisions contained in the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Amendment) Bill currently being progressed by the Department of Education and Skills that are intended to strengthen the role of Quality and Qualifications Ireland as a regulator of quality in the English language education sector.
The Minister concluded: “I am delighted that Patrick King has agreed to take on this important role. Patrick is an experienced mediator with vast experience of dealing with industrial relations issues in the education sector. I look forward to seeing the results of what I hope will be a productive process”.
Notes for Editors
A Registered Employment Agreement (REA) is a collective agreement between a trade union(s) and employer(s) on the pay or conditions of specified workers, which is registered with the Labour Court. The effect of registration with the Labour Court makes the REA binding on the subscribing parties.
REAs operate at the organisational level, where an employer and employees can reach agreement on terms and conditions and register it with the Labour Court. It is then legally binding and enforceable within that employment. It does not have sector-wide force, but if enough employers in a given sector register REAs they can begin to have a de facto effect on the sector.
This mediation process is being advanced in parallel with the legislative process for the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill which is currently before Seanad Éireann. This Bill will introduce the International Education Mark (IEM) and will strengthen the role of Quality and Qualifications Ireland as a regulator of quality in the English language training sector.
Mr Patrick King is an experienced mediator with a background in Industrial Relations within the Education Sector. He graduated from UCD with a B.A. in Politics and Psychology and a Higher Diploma in Education. He was a teacher of English and History in the Presentation Secondary School Terenure from 1971 to 1991. He joined the ASTI as Industrial Relations Senior Official in 1991 before becoming Assistant General Secretary in 2000 and General Secretary from 2010 to 2015. Mr King also served as a member of the executive council of ICTU from 2010 to 2015.