Teachers and Trainers in a Changing World

Vocational Education and Training (VET) is commonly known as the Further Education and Training (FET) Sector in Ireland. Close to € 1 billion is invested annually into FET by the Irish government through An tSeirbhís Oideachais Leanúnaigh agus Scileanna (SOLAS). Most of this funding is channeled through 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) who deliver FET provision. FET offers a wide variety of programs to a wide range of learners, some of the main programs include apprenticeships, traineeships, Post Leaving Cert (PLC), community and adult education courses as well as core literacy and numeracy services. FET courses are provided through the ETB network as well as other local providers including online provision through the SOLAS’ eCollege.

The structure of VET in Ireland is different from a lot of other European countries, 92% of young adults in Ireland have completed upper secondary education. In 2019 Ireland reached full enrolment in secondary education for both 6-14-year-olds (100%) and 15-19-year-olds (93%). Most upper secondary education students in Ireland (98%) are enrolled in general programmes and the remaining 2% are enrolled in vocational programmes (Leaving Certificate Applied). Most students who enroll in vocational programmes (FET) do so at the post- secondary non-tertiary level. Enrolment rates at this level peak at 14%, among 18- year-olds (Marie-Helene, 2019). Many FET courses are offered to learners over 16 years of age; However, FET provision is different from other EU countries in that it is not categorized in specific IVET or CVET classifications. Some FET programs are aimed at early school leavers (Youthreach, Pre-apprenticeship) but these programs are generally classified as bridging courses with a focus on progression to other higher level FET courses.

The pandemic has, like in every country altered the learning and practitioner experience, with a significant range of provision across FET being shifted to online or blended platforms. Although significant advances were achieved in this space, progressing the Future FET vision in digital transformation, this also presented challenges as well as changes in assessment. The overall staffing framework across the FET system presents a number of specific issues for action at a national level. The Qualifications and Quality Authority (QQI) in Ireland completed a report on the impacts of this early into the pandemic.

Although progress has been achieved in this area to date, the implementation of the FET Strategy will further progress the professional development agenda to support the key strategic pillars of building skills, fostering inclusion, and creating pathways.

Official Source: Dunlop, S. (2022). Teachers and trainers in a changing world – Ireland: Building up competences for inclusive, green and digitalised vocational education and training (VET).
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