Cut in VECs will annihilate education services, says union

LOCAL education services face annihilation under plans by Tánaiste Mary Coughlan to more than halve the number of Vocational Education Committees (VECs), staff representatives are warning.

Yesterday’s proposal goes far beyond last year’s An Bord Snip Nua recommendation to cut them from 33 to 22, and instead sets out to reduce the number to 16.

It would result in all but City of Dublin, City of Cork, Co Cork and Donegal VECs being merged with neighbouring committees, in some cases amalgamating three VECs.

As well as political concerns from councillors who make up half the members of the committees, anxiety has been raised among administrative staff, whose role includes not just managing almost 250 second-level schools but also adult education services, third-level grant schemes and school transport arrangements.

The IMPACT union has around 1,200 members working in VECs. It said the decision creates grave risks to local education services.

“Many services face annihilation, ranging from third-level, school transport and sports grants to night classes, adult and community education, and early school leavers’ programmes. They simply will not exist in the communities where they have played such a vital role for several decades,” said IMPACT national secretary Matt Staunton.

The Department of Education said the proposed reduction has the potential for greater savings than the €3m a year attached to the Bord Snip Nua report.


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