Further Education and Training: providing learning opportunities for everyone and in every community in Ireland
Further Education and Training is an opportunity for positive change for Ireland’s learners, communities and businesses. That’s according to SOLAS, the Further Education and Training authority, who are launching a new campaign, “FET is for Everyone”. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the learning and upskilling opportunities available to individuals and businesses alike throughout Ireland.
The new campaign comes a number of months after the launch of SOLAS’s new strategy “Future FET: Transforming Learning”, which aims to transform the delivery of FET throughout Ireland. Every year over 200,000 learners, from a wide diversity of ages and backgrounds, engage in Further Education and Training. In 2019, there were 190 different nationalities enrolled in FET.
Every year, there is a significant Government investment in FET which is managed by SOLAS and channelled through Education and Training Boards (ETBs), who deliver FET provision either directly or via a network of contracted training or community education and training providers in response to the needs of their respective regions.
Speaking about the new campaign, Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, said: “FET is already a core part of every town and community in Ireland – whether it is a young parent taking a part time Business Administration course; a property agent taking on their first apprentice; or someone returning to education after leaving school early. There’s so much more to FET than just those three examples, however. FET offers every individual, regardless of any previous level of education, a pathway to take them as far as they want to go. It 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.
“FET has changed significantly over the past number of years – but so too has the world of work and education. The notion that learning should be concentrated in our youth and is enough to last people their entire career is no longer feasible. We should all be continually adding to our skills set throughout all stages of our lives including in the workplace. We should all be continually adding to our skills set throughout all stages of our lives including in the workplace. FET offers opportunities for up-skilling and re-skilling, as well as ‘earn-while-you-learn’ programmes which benefits both employers and learners. These opportunities are particularly important in light of the rapid changes in how we work brought about by Covid-19.”
The new campaign will involve a video advertising campaign and storytelling with FET learners and employers sharing their FET experiences.
Opportunities for school leavers and individuals
SOLAS is aiming to reposition FET as an attractive and responsive choice for school leavers with career development opportunities. “FET 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. For those who wish to progress to higher education, FET learners account for approximately one-fifth of the annual intake of the technological higher education sector. Learners that transition to higher education tend to prosper and have high retention rates.”
Mr. Brownlee continued: “While these are important examples of the impact FET has for learners and the wider economy, what it provides for the individual can be extraordinary – boosting confidence, empowerment, and an increased appetite for additional study.
“A cornerstone of FET is its base at the heart of every community throughout Ireland, and the role it plays in enhancing engagement and integration across society. That’s why our new campaign is calling everyone to unlock their potential by exploring their FET opportunities.”