Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to improve the practical skills of third level graduates in the information communications technology sector before they enter the workplace.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn: Work placements have a key role to play in helping students to develop the practical work place skills required by employers. In recent years higher education institutions have expanded the work placement opportunities available to students in ICT and other disciplines and the National Strategy for Higher Education recommends further expanding work placement and service learning opportunities across higher education programmes.
The joint Government-Industry Action Plan, which I launched in January 2012, contains a comprehensive, system wide response aimed at building the supply of high quality ICT graduates. As part of the Plan almost 1,500 places have been provided for graduate jobseekers on intensive honours degree level ICT conversion courses. The courses, which are designed and delivered in partnership with industry, all contain a structured work placement.
The Action Plan also provided for the establishment of a high level Academic Industry Foresight Group chaired by the Chair of HEA and with strong high level industry membership. The Group, which was established in January 2012, has a work programme to review existing provision and ensure that third level ICT programme development is aligned to enterprise skills needs.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection her strategy to tackle long-term youth employment.
Reply from Minister Joan Burton: The official labour market figures published by the CSO indicated that the number of young unemployed at the end of 2012 was 59,000, of whom 27,300 were long-term (over one year) unemployed. The number of young long term unemployed represented a fall of 8,300 on the figure of 35,600 at the end of 2011.
In the first instance, the Government’s primary strategy to tackle all forms of unemployment is to create the environment for a strong economic recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity. Economic recovery will underpin jobs growth. Past experience suggests that youth unemployment, which tends to rise relatively rapidly in a downturn, can be expected to fall relatively rapidly during the recovery.
The Government is also implementing a number of programmes to assist young unemployed persons and keep young jobseekers close to the labour market. There are five main approaches being taken to tackle youth unemployment: education, training, job search assistance/guidance, work experience, and encouraging job creation. These actions range across a number of Departments and Agencies and include:
May 29, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 231 of 5 March 2013, the progress that has been made by the new Quality and Qualifications Ireland to finally enable aspirant providers to apply for FETAC level accreditation; and when new applications will be accepted.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn: I can inform the Deputy that, since his previous question on this issue, QQI have published a number of Green Papers on various policy areas which are available on the QQI website, dealing with subjects such as Awards and Standards, Certification, Access to Programme Accreditation, Recognition of Prior Learning and Quality Assurance. The purpose of these Green Papers is to inform the Comprehensive Policy Development Programme which QQI is undertaking with all of its stakeholders. Consultation events held by QQI in Dublin on 20 May and Cork on 28 May were attended by approximately 500 stakeholders and will inform the development of policy.
Following the receipt of submissions from interested parties over the summer months, new policies will be introduced in September to enable those providers who do not currently have a relationship with QQI to have access to external quality assurance and awards.
It should be noted that while QQI has not been accepting new applications for recognition while these policies are being developed, it has been liaising with the providers concerned. In March 2013, QQI issued a questionnaire to 105 such providers and it continues to issue the questionnaire to potential applicants. The purpose of the questionnaire is to gather information on the providers and will assist when the provider application process reopens.
Answered on May 28, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the additional measures he
proposes in order to increase the number of under-25-year-olds participating in vocational and technical education courses.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of under-25-year-olds
enrolled in vocational and technical education courses for each of the past five years.
Replies from Minister of State, Ciarán Cannon: (I propose to take questions 296 and 297 together.) There is a strong focus on under 25 year olds in education and training programmes in my Department and support for these progammes is being maintained despite the current economic difficulties.
My Department funds the provision of over 430,000 part-time and full-time places across the further and higher education and training sectors, all of which are open to young people under 25 years of age.
This provision includes the recently developed and flexible re-skilling opportunities specifically for unemployed people in areas of emerging skills needs under Momentum initiatives. The introduction of the MOMENTUM programme will have a specific impact on young unemployed people. It is to provide a
range of quality, relevant education and training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are long-term unemployed. Training will be provided within the context of four themes all of which are open to under 25 year olds. One of these themes will focus on the specific needs of people under 25 and 800 places are being made available specifically for this.
For early school leavers, my Department funds 6,000 places under the Youthreach programme. The programme provides participants with two years integrated education, training and work experience. which facilitates early school leavers with opportunities to acquire certification and progress to further education, training or employment.
A weekly training allowance is paid to learners on some further education and training programmes. Learners who are under 25 will be paid an allowance of €160 per week, which is higher than the Jobseekers Allowance rates of €100 for those aged 18 to 21 and €144 for those aged 22 to 24.
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) scheme funded by the Department of Social Protection provides income maintenance for unemployed people returning to further and higher education. Latest figures show over 6,700 young people under 25 years of age are in receipt of the BTEA, 56% of whom are second level and 44% third level.
Statistics on the number of under 25s enrolled in further education and training programmes for each of the past five years is being collated at present and will be forwarded separately to the Deputy.
Tuesday, 5 March, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the limbo endured by aspirant providers due to the setting up the new Quality and Qualifications Ireland; when new applications for FETAC level accreditation will be accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply from Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn: "As the Deputy will be aware, FETAC, HETAC and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) were formally dissolved on 6 November and their functions are now undertaken by the new amalgamated qualifications and quality assurance body, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). Significant work was undertaken by those bodies on the necessary core administrative preparations for the establishment of the new Authority, such as the establishment of a new organisational structure, change of accommodation and integration of ICT infrastructure.
In addition, the establishment of QQI has also involved the amalgamation of processes, including ones that have operated differently in the different agencies due to the history and nature of the different sectors. This requires the reconfiguration of current services such as the registration process for new providers, the validation and accreditation of programmes, the monitoring and review of providers and the development, review and certification of awards. It also includes the development of formal guidelines, criteria and procedures pursuant to the new Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012.
QQI is currently developing those guidelines, criteria and procedures and it is expected that new applications will be accepted by QQI in the near future. However, it should be noted that QQI continues to provide services to more than 1,000 providers which were registered with FETAC and HETAC and continues to make awards to learners."
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.