“Sometimes overlooked, often undervalued” is how the “Cinderella” of the Irish education system was recently described by the new Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris.
Ireland’s Further Education and Training (FET) sector has been around for a long time but the perception of it as a route that is less valid than higher education, “second best”, or limited to a small offering of apprenticeships is still held by some. However, today’s FET sector with annual funding of about €800 million, 200,000 learners each year and 25,000 courses on offer throughout the country, represents a very different reality.
“Further education and training really is for everyone,” says Maria Walshe, acting director – communications and secretariat with Solas. “It’s open from early school-leavers to those who are looking to upskill, to people who are looking to change jobs. And because we cover NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications) levels one to