Sinn Féin's Sorca Clarke calls for review of PLC courses available in Longford and Westmeath
Sinn Féin Councillor and general election candidate Sorca Clarke has called for a review of the current provision of the PLC courses available in Longford and Westmeath.
Referring to her position for the past number of years on the Education and Training Board, Cllr Clarke said she has consistently called for re-examination of the type of PLC courses Leaving Cert students go on to study and if they are requirements when entering the workforce.
“There needs to be a review,” said Cllr Clarke, “of the PLC courses that students are forced to pursue in order to ensure that are education system is meeting the needs of both our school leavers and employers. A recent ESRI report found that the current PLC education system is not providing the changing labour market with the skills needed which reinforces concerns I have had when sitting on the Westmeath ETB. We must ensure that PLC course are fit for purpose and are strategically placed to meet future employment demands and the changing labour market.”
Cllr Clarke said that the PLC system represents the largest component of full time further education and training provision in Ireland, with 32,000 students enrolled resulting on an annual expenditure of €160 million.
Considering its importance to students entering the workplace it is vitally important that the courses provided meet the requirements of industry.
“The ESRI Report finding,” continued Cllr Clarke, ‘provides ample evidence of substantial levels of oversupply in some areas while there is little evidence that the number of places and composition of provision is reactive to changing labour market conditions. There is no point in training and educating people in areas where jobs do not exist, while other sectors of the economy struggle to find workers trained in their field.
“It is Sinn Féin’s assertion that apprenticeships are a more suitable form of education and training, allowing students to earn and learn, while also obtaining a qualification and work experience. In addition, apprenticeships are based on finding work with an employer first, thus ensuring students are qualifying in an industry where positions are available.”
“Sinn Féin have been advocating for more investment and expansion of the apprenticeship system, but unfortunately the government is not listening. For example, the potential for apprenticeships in the area of “Green” air flow central heating systems could benefit Ireland in reaching our 2020 Emission Targets.”
Cllr Clarke pointed out that the government’s own apprenticeship targets were 62% behind at the end of 2017, with just 302 of 800 planned students in new apprenticeship programmes.
“Fine Gael needs to wake up and address the escalating skills shortage, or, she concluded, “it will turn into a full-blown crisis that they can add to other failures in health, housing, homelessness and justice.”
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