Further education and training in Longford to benefit from new SOLAS strategy
A new strategy aims to expand the role of Further Education and Training in Longford and Westmeath and all across Ireland according to Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, who was speaking at the launch of a new five-year strategy for FET.
The strategy, ‘Future FET: Transforming Learning’, aims to reposition FET as an attractive, in-demand and quality choice for those engaging in upskilling and lifelong learning, as well as for school-leavers. It envisages “FET Colleges of the future” as “beacons of community-based learning excellence, which can start to change the hearts and minds of Irish society” with regard to school-leaving and education for career development options.
Speaking at the recent launch of the new strategy, Andrew Brownlee said: “FET is for everyone. It is available in every community in Ireland, and offers every individual, regardless of any previous level of education, a pathway to take them as far as they want to go. It is delivered locally by 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) ensuring that FET reflects regional characteristics and meets regional needs. SOLAS looks forward to working with Longford and Westmeath ETB who play a vital role in the local community in supporting people to reach their potential and will strengthen this role under the new strategy.
“FET can offer personal development and fulfilment, a link to community and social networks, and a range of supports that reflect the diverse base of its learners. It also offers great opportunities to move into exciting and interesting vocations and careers, or a platform to develop the skills that will allow someone to flourish if they go on to further study in higher education.
“Our new strategy sets out an ambitious vision for the expansion of the FET sector. By 2025, there will be a greater overall penetration of FET across the population. A greater share of Longford and Westmeath school-leavers will be choosing FET or apprenticeships as their first destination.
“People will move seamlessly – in large numbers – between FET and higher education, with clear transition criteria. A significant and growing cohort of people in employment will be using FET to upskill, with employers viewing FET as a critical enterprise resource.
“Progression levels through FET will increase strongly, with pathways from core skills courses and community education available to all who wish to pursue them. A digitally transformed FET system will offer a large portfolio of flexible, online and blended opportunities.”
Integrated Tertiary Education System
Mr Brownlee said the new FET strategy comes at an exciting time for the education sector.
“The ambitious Programme for Government set out by the 33rd Dáil makes commitments to education; to expansion of apprenticeship and vocational training; to job creation through innovation, digital enhancement and research; to climate action; and to community, inclusivity and equality. FET can enable delivery of all these commitments,” he said.
“We are moving towards an integrated tertiary education system, combining FET and higher education, and we are embedding the key role that lifelong learning has to play in social inclusion and economic success. The creation of the new Government Department for Further and Higher Education is a significant milestone in this regard.
“Further Education and Training has a long, proud and successful history. The FET sector we know today is built upon decades of hard work and cooperation, and is characterised by an ability to embrace change and accept the challenges that come with this.
“FET was a lifeline for many during the last economic recession, and FET will be critical to our post-Covid recovery. Now more than ever, FET will support the economy through targeted initiatives, particularly around re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities.
“We need to ensure we can meet the needs of the future world and be responsive and adaptable in times of necessity. Our ways of working are constantly evolving, and the idea of a static ‘job for life’ is becoming less and less of a feature of our working lives. We are working differently, we are working for longer over the course of our lives and, as the world changes around us at a rapid pace, we need to be equipped to adapt to these changes. The new FET Strategy, in cooperation with the Programme for Government, provides a roadmap for the future.”
‘Future FET: Transforming Learning’, the new five-year strategy for FET, is available to download HERE