SUBSTANTIAL spending in further education and training will be invested in Clare campuses run by the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB) over the coming years, according to a senior official.
Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board recently announced an investment in the region of more than €1 billion as part of the launch of its new 2022 to 2026 Strategy Statement.
Paul Patton, Head of Further Education and Training, confirmed there has been a €3 million investment in their Ennis campus, which has led to the introduction for the first time of apprenticeship courses, which were previously only available in Shannon.
There are three new electrical apprenticeship workshops in Ennis and a new beauty and hair dressing salon, as the LCETB is now responsible for providing the National Hairdressing Apprenticeship Programme for the entire country.
Two weeks ago, Bridget Haren of Bridget Haren Hair and Beauty, Ennis was one of their first graduates in the country to obtain a Level Six Advanced Certificate, which was completed through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
CEO, George O’Callaghan also announced there will be a new multi-million Euro new College of Further Education and Training campus in Shannon, incorporating a National Centre of Excellence for Aviation.
LCETB is the only agency providing the Aircraft Maintenance Apprenticeship Course in Shannon where 55 aircraft mechanics are completing their phase two training.
This course has been expanded to include the maintenance of helicopter engines following the purchase of a two-seater Robinson Helicopter as a training rig.
LCETB works with the International Aircraft Coating Company in Shannon, which constructed a €13.5 million new hanger a few years ago.
While mechanics are working to take over the skin off an aircraft to re-spray it, 14 trainees are on a training rig in another section with a view to gaining the necessary qualifications to secure future employment.
Considerable expenditure in Kilrush has facilitated courses such as stone wall making, which could result in a collaboration with Clare County Council where graduates would repair stone walls in graveyards.
The Kilrush campus has also enjoyed considerable expenditure to facilitate courses on van and rigid lorry driving.
Adult learners from Kilrush are bused to complete evening classes in their Shannon campus on welding.
The Department of Further Higher Education Research and Innovation and Science has developed a network of regional Skills Forums throughout the country.
The Mid-West Skills Forum in Limerick is led by Joe Leddin, who works in collaboration with Enterprise Support Services Officer, Emer Brophy, to identify and respond to the training needs of local industry.
In an interview with the Clare Champion, Mr Patton recalled employers identified more software engineers and more female software engineers were required, which resulted in the niche Coding for Women course.
A month ago, the first graduates of this course emerged and they are now employed by Analog, Stryker and Dell.
“During that course an employer had to guarantee a work placement. That has worked a treat because a lot of women have secured contracts with these companies.
“We work a lot with engineering companies with other agencies to identify skills needs before we provide courses to meet these needs.
“We have worked with haulage companies to provide more rigid and haulage drivers. This is contracted out to a third party, but we oversee and evaluate it.
“We are also working with companies to increase the number of bus drivers because there is a huge shortage of bus drivers.”
“Drivers have to retire from Bus Eireann when they reach the age of 70, but you can be in excess of 70 and drive a private bus. Bus Eireann don’t have enough young people to replace retirees.
“Any industry that has a skills shortage can contact the LCETB or the Skills Forum and we will try our best to respond,” he said.
LCETB is the only agency providing F-gas compliance training to carry out maintenance and repair of air-conditioning and refrigeration units.
Prior to Brexit, this compliance qualification came from the United Kingdom. However, since Brexit the Environmental Protection Agency ruled this has to be provided in Ireland and the LCETB has stepped up to fill this void.
To cater for the huge demand, this course is also being provided by the City of Dublin ETB using the LCETB accreditation.
“There is a lot happening in Clare in terms of further education and training and a lot more will happen in terms of investment,” he said.
“We have developed a single college of Further Education and Training structure with multi campuses. Child protection and other procedures are completed by the overall organisation, while officers in centres look after the day-to-day operation and development of courses,” he explained.
LCETB has substantially increased investment in further education and training in Clare in Miltown Malbay, Kilrush, Ennis and Scariff.
English for Speakers of Other Languages, ESOL which is focused primarily on Ukrainians refugees is provided in Lisdoonvarna, Scariff, Killaloe, Kilrush, Ennis and Shannon.
Mr Patton said between 30 and 40 tutors including Ukrainians who were teachers in Ukraine have been hired to provide ESOL training.
The Department of Further and Higher Education also approved two adult literacy officers dedicated to manage and coordinate the Ukrainian response – one for North Clare and one for the rest of the county.
Core Skills Resource Worker, Arlene Doris said it very important for Ukrainian refugees to learn English to help them and their children to integrate into local communities and schools.