Fianna Fáil has described the government’s attack on further education in Dublin as “highly regressive and deeply damaging” for students and employment prospects for the future.
As a direct result of Fine Gael and Labour decisions in government over 100 teaching posts in further education institutions are being lost across Dublin.
Fianna Fáil Group Leader on Dublin City Council Mary Fitzpatrick has said the cuts to the further education and training sector are “a disgraceful attack on the unemployed and disadvantaged learners looking to access second chance education opportunities and employment.”
Cllr. Fitzpatrick commented: “Not only are Fine Gael and Labour reducing the financial means for those wishing to go on to further education, but it is also slashing the number of teachers and specialist courses on offer through the increases in the pupil-teacher-ratio for PLCs.
“Colleges of Further Education in Dublin are being hardest hit by these cuts with 48 whole-time-equivalent posts being lost across Dublin city and a further 20 in Dublin county. Given that many such posts are filled with non-permanent specialised teachers on short-term contracts the loss in teacher numbers in the capital is totally disproportionate with Dublin set to lose over 100 teachers.
“Not only did Fine Gael and Labour bring in these cuts they have also voted down a motion by Fianna Fáil in the Dáil to reverse the cuts to funding for VECs and PLC colleges. Fianna Fáil also proposed a reversal of the cuts to training allowances and the Back to Education Allowance which will result in a significant reduction in student places on PLCs and in the number of courses available.”
Speaking during the Dáil debate on the Fianna Fáil motion, Party Leader Micheál Martin said: “The further education sector is synonymous with innovation and diversity, with courses ranging from cloud computing to music management to dance, as well as animation so celebrated in Hollywood with the success of Ballyfermot Senior College. All of these courses require specialist involvement and recruiting people for a period of six hours to teach a particular module. Those teachers with security of tenure will not lose their jobs. In essence, however, the Government is pulling the temporary specialists providing short-term courses out of the system, removing choice and opportunity for people who need it.”
Cllr. Fitzpatrick added: “Across the country, about 400 specialised PLC teachers will be dropped from the system as a result of these cuts. There is no doubt that students here in Dublin and across the country will suffer as a result.
“The latest statistics show there are over 100,000 people on the Live Register in Dublin, almost 16,000 of who are under 25. These people are looking for work opportunities at home, and the specialised courses and training offered by our institutes of further education provide much needed opportunities. It is a grave mistake to persist with plans to water-down this sector when little or nothing has been done to tackle the jobs crisis.
“As Leader of the Fianna Fáil Group on Dublin City Council I will be raising this issue at council level and calling on Fine Gael and Labour Councillors to see sense and vote to put pressure on the government to reverse these senseless cuts. It is deeply disappointing that the government is persisting with measures that will have a significant impact on students, job seekers and the economy into the future,” Cllr. Fitzpatrick said.