Further education includes training and education that takes place after second level but not as part of the third level system. A wide variety of further education providers, such as schools, institutions and organisations, are involved in delivering education to school leavers and adults all around the country.
Up until 6 November 2012, FETAC was responsible for quality assurance of further education. From that date on, QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) was established as a replacement and since then it has been working to improve the development of qualifications and quality assurance, monitor the awarding and validation of qualifications and supervise the educational providers.
In 2013, QQI began a Comprehensive Policy Development Programme and published the first Strategy Statement of Qualifications and Quality Ireland on November 27th. This strategy statement covers a three year period, from January 2014 to December 2016, and sets out the goals and missions the QQI have for further education and how they plan to achieve them. Over these three years the QQI hope to improve the quality of further education in Ireland and provide more opportunities and flexibility for learners.
The QQI have 6 main goals for the future of further education:
1. To establish a set of policies with the National Framework of Qualifications
2. To place the learner at the centre of the policies
3. To assure the quality of educational providers by clearly setting out standards that will enhance the quality of learning
4. To create educational opportunities that meet employment and cultural needs
5. To provide clear information to the public on qualifications and role of the QQI
6. To ensure that QQI staff are equipped with the necessary skills to create and manage change and to regularly monitor and review the strategy and the QQI’s performance.
These plans for improvement in further education by the QQI are crucial now as Ireland seeks to increase employment and rebuild the economy. Increased variety in trainings and qualifications established to suit the current labour market mean that many will be encouraged to enrol in further education with the knowledge that their qualification will be of a high standard and valuable to them when seeking employment. For more information on the QQI and the strategy statement visit: www.qqi.ie