When Solas, the further education and training (FET) agency, was established in 2013, the sector began to grow in importance.
The new agency quickly began a long-overdue reform and overhaul of apprenticeships. Further education colleges strengthened their links with the higher education sector and, over time, post-Leaving Cert courses started to become a serious first-choice for more and more students.
The training sector opened up a whole new set of job opportunities for people who wanted to retrain or learn a new skill without necessarily having to go to college. And apprenticeships have grown from as low as 1,200 about 10 years ago, in a limited range of mostly craft courses such as motor mechanics and plumbing, to 16,000 last year and coming on 18,000 this year, with newer options including auctioneering, cybersecurity, supply chain manager, sales and laboratory analyst.
Under the recently-departed director of communications, Nikki Gallagher, Solas began