Educational leave from work ‘will boost prospects’

THE poor job prospects of early school-leavers highlight the need for paid educational leave from work, teachers have claimed.

An Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report published this week showed falling work opportunities for teenagers who drop out of school before the Leaving Certificate.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) general secretary Jim Dorney said the research findings should be seen as an incentive to open routes to college.

With early school-leavers in 2004 finding it harder to get well-paid work than those who left in 2002, he said the findings demonstrated the need to encourage students to engage in further education courses to enhance their job potential.

“In this regard, it is unsustainable that paid educational leave is not available to workers, particularly those in unskilled jobs,” Mr Dorney said.

He suggested short-term courses could be taken to allow workers to upgrade their skills, which would also benefit employers.

Mr Dorney said it was unjustifiable that part-time students are charged fees while full-time students are exempt from paying them.

He also said that a greater commitment was needed to assist the further education sector and to offer people, who may have dropped out of education at an early stage, an opportunity to return to learning.

“Further education courses are being run in effect as second-level schools, which is at variance with the rest of Western Europe where this sector of education is prioritised and highly developed,” he said.

Mr Dorney called on the Department of Education to address the difficulties in the sector by implementing a 2003 consultants’ report which proposed restructuring and separate funding for further education, which currently caters for 30,000 students.

Minister of State Síle de Valera told the Dáil yesterday that the €46 million needed to implement the McIver report was not available in 2006.

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