End of an era as VECs are no more

More than eight decades of education provision ends today when 33 city and county vocational education committees (VECs) are consigned to history.

The 16 education and training boards (ETBs) set up in their place will continue much of their work, as well as having additional responsibilities in each of their areas.

The membership of each board will be reconstituted but around 350 councillors on VECs will continue on ETBs until after next year’s local elections.

From 2014 each ETB will have 21 members: 12 nominated by councils in their local area, along with elec-ted representatives of staff and parents, and nominees of business, student, and school management bodies.

The VECs’ budgets this year have been over €1bn and although their work is largely associated with their 250 vocational schools and community college, it extends to further education, post-Leaving Certificate courses catering for more than 32,000 students, Youthreach, and literacy and adult education schemes.

ETBs will take on the majority of Fás programmes when its training centres transfer to them late this year or in early 2014. Under the ETB Act, they will also be expected to help schools and education providers in areas such as capital projects, human resources, IT support, and financial and legal services.

“These structural changes represent the most profound overhaul of education and training in Ireland for decades,” said Michael Moriarty, the general secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland, the renamed representative body for the sector.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the ETBs will strengthen locally managed education and, as a major component of the public service transformation agenda, around €2.1m a year will be saved.

The day-to-day work of the ETBs will be led by outgoing chief executives of 16 VECs, with a number of acting VEC chiefs returning to previously held posts. Because there were 19 permanent VEC chiefs but only 16 ETBs, some have been redeployed to other roles.

Co Louth VEC chief executive Padraig Kirk will lead teacher training for the reformed junior cycle in second-level schools, and Dún Laoghaire VEC chief executive Carol Hanney will be a further education policy specialist at the Department of Education.

Co Clare VEC chief executive George O’Callaghan was to lead the new Cork ETB but will instead carry out the department’s assessment of second-level provision in Limerick.

In the meantime, City of Cork VEC chief executive Ted Owens will be acting chief of Cork ETB, a merger of Cork’s city and county VECs.


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