The Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn has announced that he is appointing Pat Delaney as the chairperson of SOLAS; the new state authority for further education and training that is replacing FÁS. Mr. Delaney is well known amongst private sector employers and is a former member of the employer’s organisation IBEC and director of the Small Firms Association. His appointment as chairperson of SOLAS will be confirmed by the approval of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social protection. Mr. Delaney will not receive a fee for this position but will be allowed to claim travel and subsistence.
SOLAS is expected to be up and running within the next few weeks and will take over the role of FÁS; co-ordinating and funding a wide range of further education and training programmes around the country. It’s aim is to ensure the provision of high quality further education available to learners and jobseekers by working closely with the newly established ETBs.
The three main objectives of SOLAS are to lead and co-ordinate the process of integration further education training institutions and programmes, to look after the funding and performance of the further education programmes and to make sure that the training programmes are focused on the needs of learners and jobseekers as well as meeting the needs of employers. The formation of SOLAS means that the delivery of further education and training are brought together and managed by the one body; similar to the role of the Higher Education Authority in third level education.
SOLAS will have an important task ahead of them, at a time when there is a great need to improve further education and boost employment. With FÁS holding a reputation for being costly and ineffective in terms of reducing unemployment levels, all eyes will be on the newly formed SOLAS and Mr. Delaney over the next few months in anticipation of a change for the better.