The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, has published the Further Education and Training Bill 2013 which provides for the establishment of SOLAS, the new Further Education and Training Authority, under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills.
SOLAS will lead the process of revitalising the sector and will be responsible for co-ordinating and funding programmes across the country.
The new Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and other providers will carry out training on the ground. Separate legislation is currently going through the Oireachtas to replace the 33 Vocational Education Committees (VECs) with 16 ETBs. The SOLAS Bill also provides for the disbanding of FÁS. Existing FÁS training centres will come under the remit of the ETBs.
Commenting on the draft legislation, Minister Quinn said “SOLAS will help to implement the Government’s Pathways to Work Strategy and will concentrate particularly on supports for the unemployed and long-term unemployed.” Minister of State Ciarán Cannon TD stressed that “SOLAS will not simply be a re-branded FÁS. We are learning from our experience of FÁS to help develop the new agency; we want SOLAS to work with ETBs and other service providers to harness what is good about our further education and training system and make it even better for users”.
The Action Plan for the establishment of SOLAS was completed recently and is available on the Department’s website. This includes detailed plans for the transfer of FÁS training centres to the new ETBs.