FET Strategic Planning and Quality Assurance

At European level Ireland has agreed to implement the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET). The EQAVET framework focuses on mobility but also on improving the outputs and outcomes of FET and making FET more attractive to learners. The EQAVET framework is grounded on the principle that quality assurance applies across all levels of the system and invokes collective responsibility to work together with all relevant stakeholders to improve FET. Each Level of the System has, therefore, a distinct and important role to play in its implementation i.e. by developing complementary processes that can serve as a catalyst for change and FET improvement.

EQAVET goals[1]:

  • Greater Investment in Teacher/Tutor/Trainer Training and CPD
  • Greater Participation in FET Programmes
  • Greater Completion rate of FET Programmes
  • Greater Placement rate of FET Graduates
  • Greater Utlitisation of acquired skills in the workplace
  • Greater Access to FET Programmes
  • Greater Participation in FET programmes by vulnerable groups
  • Improved Mechanisms for identifying training needs in the labour market
  • Lower Unemployment rate

The commitment to implementing this framework was renewed recently as part of the Riga Conclusions[2] to which Ireland was a signatory. The purpose of the latter was to identify 5 key medium term deliverables that each Member State would agree to achieve in 2015-2020. Member States including Ireland agreed to:

  • promote work-based learning in all its forms, with special attention to apprenticeships, by involving social partners, companies, chambers and FET[3] providers, as well as by stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • further develop quality assurance mechanisms in FET in line with the European quality assurance in FET recommendation and, as part of quality assurance systems, establish continuous information and feedback loops in initial FET and continuing FET systems based on learning outcomes;

 

  • enhance access to FET and qualifications for all through more flexible and permeable systems, notably by offering efficient and integrated guidance services and making available validation of non-formal and informal learning;
  • further strengthen key competences in FET curricula and provide more effective opportunities to acquire or develop those skills through initial FET and continuing FET;
  • introduce systematic approaches to, and opportunities for, initial and continuous professional development of FET teachers, trainers and mentors in both school and work-based settings.

The SOLAS Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019 is also pursuing these policy goals at national level. In turn CDETB has an Education, Training and Youth Services Strategy 2015-2020 which is also in line with European and National Policy aims for FET and takes in strategies to achieve the relevant national outcomes as set out in the DES Statement of Strategy 2015-2017 and the National Policy Framework for Children & Young People 2014-2020[4] . In particular CDETB has a key role to play in relation to helping to ensure children and young people are:

  • Engaged in learning
  • Achieving in Education
  • Protected from poverty and social exclusion
  • Opportunities for ongoing education and training
  • Pathways to economic participation and independent living
  • Part of positive networks of friends, family and community[5] – Note: the latter is important in terms of youth services but also for our educational provision which is embedded into communities also.

Ireland’s National Skills Strategy provides for the following key objectives:

  • Education and training providers will place a stronger focus on providing skills
  • development opportunities that are relevant to the needs of learners, society and the economy.
  • Employers will participate actively in the development of skills and make effective use of skills in their organisations to improve productivity and competitiveness.
  • The quality of teaching and learning at all stages of education and training will be continually enhanced and evaluated.People across Ireland will engage more in lifelong learning.
  • There will be active inclusion to support participation in education and training and the labour market.
  • We will support an increase in the supply of skills to the labour market[6].

 

The quality, maintenance and enhancement agenda with increased quality assurance capacity at corporate level is a key priority and has the potential to meet all relevant strategies for FET, at European, National and Regional level. This includes aligning quality assurance policies and procedures with the new QQI Quality Assurance Guidelines and through new FET programme development, which will offer a wider variety of programmes, strengthen the quality of existing programmes and support focused progression to higher education institutions and roles within industry.

Footnotes:

[1] Galvao, M.E, VET providers’ self-monitoring by using the EQAVET Toolbox of Indicators (A Guide for National Reference Points)

[2] RIGA CONCLUSIONS (2015) ON A NEW SET OF MEDIUM-TERM DELIVERABLES IN THE FIELD OF VET FOR THE PERIOD 2015-2020, AS A RESULT OF THE REVIEW OF SHORT-TERM DELIVERABLES DEFINED IN THE 2010 BRUGES COMMUNIQUÉ

[3] Within the European context, Vocational Education and Training (VET) is the terms used. However, within the Irish context, this is Further Education and Training. FET is used instead of VET to avoid confusion for the purposes of providing clear information to the public.

[4] See “BETTER OUTCOMES BRIGHTER FUTURES The national policy framework for children and young people 2014 – 2020” published by The Stationary Office for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

[5] Supra

[6] https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/pub_national_skills_strategy_2025.pdf

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