MSLETB is involved in an extensive network of stakeholders both nationally, regionally and locally. They include SOLAS, QQI, DEASP, employers, skills fora and second providers.
SOLAS as the Further Education and Training Authority is responsible for the funding of a wide range of FET programmes nationally the majority of which are delivered through the sixteen ETBs. As part of this funding MSLETB has to submit annual funding allocation requests to SOLAS, which includes performance targets, such as inputs, outputs, certification, budget requests and qualitative data on specific programmatic areas such as engagement with employers, active inclusion, continued improvements etc. MSLETB reports on these targets to SOLAS three times a year through the FARR database and submission of financial reports. The ETB provides administrative support staff, as well as the support of the PLSS/FARR QA Support person, to aid centres reporting to SOLAS through FARR.
SOLAS has statutory responsibility for craft apprenticeships (as coordinating provider). Currently MSLETB run three craft apprenticeships and have two Senior Training Advisors who are authorised officers acting on behalf of SOLAS to approve the companies based in Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim in which apprentices shall be employed.
MSLETB is a legacy provider for QQI, currently operating under four QA agreements, and working towards re-engagement with QQI, and this executive self-evaluation report is part of this process. In addition to delivering QQI certification across its centres, in which learners achieved 8,310 awards in 2017 (Major Awards 1,555, Special Purpose Awards 880 and Minor Awards 5,875). MSLETB engages closely with QQI in a number of working groups and pilot projects, such as the National Validation Working Group.
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP)
The Department of DEASP and its Intreo offices are strategic partners for MSLETB in its efforts to provide appropriate education and training opportunities for the individuals who are out of the labour market, and is the primary referral agency for training programmes. An interagency agreement between MSLETB and the DEASP is in place since October 2016 to manage this relationship.
MSLETB recognises that employer engagement is central to our role as educators and trainers in supporting enterprise and employment in Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim. MSLETB, in line with the Board’s Strategic Goal 1 has established an Employer Engagement Group and an employer database. We continue to network and collaborate throughout MSLETB with employers, employer groups (IBEC, ACBI, CIF, IHF RAI, etc.), Regional Skills Fora (RSF), education providers, state agencies (SOLAS, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, LEOs, etc.) and other stakeholders. We understand that this approach promotes a continuous improvement and change agenda.
MSLETB recently collaborated with the RSF Border (North), and the IOTs Sligo & Letterkenny to conduct an ICT Skills Audit with 28 ICT Companies in this area. The findings from the final report will inform the Board on skills deficits and requirements from industry and it will also inform industry about the Board’s services and how to access them.
Employer Engagement enhances the quality and relevance of the Board’s education and training provision including teaching and learning practices facilitating participation in work place learning thereby enabling the smooth transition of learners into employment.
MSLETB is actively involved in new generation apprenticeships (Butcher & Sales Apprenticeships) and traineeships (Hospitality for example). These types of experiential work based learning models require in depth occupational skills profiling in collaboration with industry partners and industry representative groups.
An employer services brochure, information video and a full directory of services is available on www.msletb.ie, sligotrainingcentre.ie and on other individual Training and FET Centre websites. MSLETB is currently developing structure that can provide an organised, managed two-way communications/ interactive system between employers and the Board.
Regional Skills Forum
MSLETB is represented on two Regional Skills Fora; Western Regional Skills Forum and the North West Regional Skills Forum. These fora provides an opportunity for MSLETB, with other bodies and agencies, including Sligo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, St. Angela’s College (NUIG), Skillnets, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, County Councils, local LEOs, Intreo (DEASP), Fáilte Ireland, IBEC, to engage in structured dialogue between enterprise sectors and education and training providers focused on identifying skills requirements and building customised solutions responsive to regional business needs.
Contracted training is a procured service to deliver training within Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim. A new tendering process developed by the Office of Government Procurement and SOLAS has been completed, and successful contractors who win the tender, may work with MSLETB training services for up to four years. When delivering training on behalf of MSLETB, they do so under MSLETB’s QA agreement for training services (i.e. the TQAS). The Contracted Training Officer monitors contracted training providers on a monthly basis. In this regard, a traffic light system is in place to monitor contracted training performance.
Community Training Centres (CTCs)
CTCs provide second chance education and training for early school leavers, aged 16–21 years. These centres are managed by the Boards of independent companies and funded by MSLETB through a service level agreement. CTCs are required to adhere to MSLETB Quality Assurance policies and procedures and are monitored on a regular basis by training services staff.
Local Training Initiatives (LTIs)
LTIs provide vocational training opportunities, learning supports and project-based learning to marginalised learners, aged 16-35 years with low-level education, who have been referred by the DEASP. The proposal for an LTI comes from a sponsoring group in response to a need identified at a local level. Through a service contract with MSLETB, LTI sponsors are provided with the funding to deliver a response to the specific identified training needs. LTIs are required to adhere to MSLETB Quality Assurance policies and procedures and are monitored on a regular basis by training services staff.
Specialist Training Providers
Specialist Training Providers, such as the National Learning Network, address the identified training needs of people with disabilities who are experiencing exclusion and labour market disadvantage.
Other Community Education Providers
The Community Education strand of the MSLETB FET service maintains a large network of relationships with community development groups and other community providers, through which the service delivers a wide range of courses, predominately uncertified. Responsibility for these programmes lies with the Community Education Facilitator, who reports to the Adult Education Officer. Certified courses, under Community Education programme, adhere to MSLETB Quality Assurance policies and procedures.
Progression to further studies is a targeted outcome for many MSLETB programmes and participants. MSLETB has a number of formal and informal arrangements and agreements in place to provide additional progression opportunities for learners into a large number of third level institutions, including Sligo IT and GMIT.
The Department of Education and Skills has, for a significant period of time, allocated additional teaching resources to MSLETB under what is commonly termed the ‘Cooperation Hours’ scheme, to provide teaching services to other institutions and bodies as part of the remit of the ETB to provide for continuing education in their areas. Cooperation hours are allocated to a variety of services and bodies by MSLETB including:
- Community Training Centres
- Cheshire Homes
- HSE Disability Services
The rationale and criteria for awarding these hours are largely based on historical decisions. Activity under these arrangements varies from supporting learners with Literacy and Numeracy needs to uncertified programmes within the FE services.
Other Awarding Bodies
QQI certifies the largest proportion of FET programmes in MSLETB. A small number of programmes are certified by other awarding bodies (see table below) and MSLETB has quality assurance arrangements and agreements in place with these awarding bodies. Based on the new QQI Quality Assurance guidelines, MSLETB will incorporate these arrangements, as well as unaccredited provision, in the development of new quality assurance policies and procedures. Oversight of all assessment processes, regardless of the awarding body, is managed at ETB-level.
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