Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Education and Skills Brendan Smith TD has welcomed confirmation that a new further education and training authority is to be established, strengthening the role of VECs in delivering of further education and training services.


Deputy Smith commented, “I welcome the Government’s decision to carry on the reform process begun by the previous Government in 2009. The establishment of a new stand alone authority dedicated to further education and training is the final step in the three part reform process.


“The first phase involved putting in place a stronger Board and corporate governance structure at FÁS. Phase two involved the transfer of responsibility for training and skills to the Department of Education in March last year, while the final phase involved the re-structuring and re-mandating of FÁS as a newly-focused skills and training provider. This was announced by Minister Quinn’s predecessor in the Dáil last October. The new agency proposed by the previous Government was due to be set up early this year.


“There has been substantial growth in the further education sector over the past ten years and the establishment of a new agency confirms the crucial role of the PLC sector in meeting the skills requirements of the economy in the years to come. The new agency must meet the skills requirements of individuals and streamline the provision of further education and training, while ensuring a strong emphasis on quality assurance particularly in relation to the provision of training by the private sector. We also need to know where Adult Education and Youth reach fits within the new structures of SOLAS.”


“When the previous Government announced last October that a renewed and freshly mandated training agency would assume the work of FÁS in early 2011, Fine Gael responded by saying that it was little more than “a re-branding spin job with no real reform”.  Labour accused the plan of “lacking detail”. It is disappointing that the former opposition reacted in a such a cynical way in the past to the very announcement they have now claimed as their own today.


“I am calling on Minister Quinn to publish a comprehensive implementation plan as soon as possible and to provide further detail of the new structures to be put in place.”