The investigation of the Fás programmes was initiated last month after issues were identified in the north-east.
The Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) is visiting all 17 Fás centres that request certificates. It has already visited six.
The stay on all certificates, apart from apprenticeships and construction related courses. emerged following a response to a Parliamentary Question asked of Tánaiste and Education Minister Mary Coughlan by Fine Gael Education spokesman Fergus O’Dowd last night.
He asked Ms Coughlan why FETAC was carrying out audits at some Fás centres and “the precise number of individual cases which were the subject of the recent Fás communication to FETAC regarding certification queries from the north-east”.
In her response Ms Coughlan said that during the implementation of a new Training Standards System in the northeast, “significant processing issues in respect of a small number of courses were identified by Fás giving rise to errors on certificate requests for 53 learners on six courses”. “No certificates had issued to learners,” she said. “However, as a result of these issues, Fás decided to undertake a more detailed review. FETAC are now conducting an examination of the issues with Fás, involving visits to all Fás centres that request certificates from FETAC.”
She said pending the finalisation of their examination and to ensure that errors do not occur on certificates, FETAC had decided to place a temporary hold on issuing certificates to Fás learners “in respect of award types which may be subject to the errors encountered”.
“It is expected that the FETAC examination will be concluded later this month,” she added.
However last night FETAC, and later the Tánaiste’s office confirmed the stay on the certificates applied to almost all courses.
“This evening’s announcement by FETAC is another damning indictment of Fás,” said Mr O’Dowd. “The fact that FETAC is refusing to issue certificates to Fás pending the outcome of investigations is not only the latest in a long line of embarrassing bombshells to hit the State training agency, but once again calls into question the viability of it.”
Earlier this year, it emerged more than 1,700 certificates in 54 different courses in the north-east were being withheld because of course irregularities.