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Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.

About this Sector

About this Sector

Please give an overview of your sector?

Source: Ireland's Education & Training Sector ~ Overview of Service Delivery and Reform, DES, 2015.

Education affects all citizens and the Department faces many challenges in ensuring that it meets the needs of many stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, management, schools and further and higher education providers, employers, and society generally.

It plays a major role in shaping the values and skills of our young people, in equipping learners for participation in social and economic life, in promoting equality, social inclusion and citizenship, and in providing a skills base in the knowledge society which will support competitiveness and growth.

Some  1 million full-time students use the education system in Ireland each day, attending first level, second level, further and higher education institutions aided by the Department of Education and Skills. There are some 870,000 students following first and second level programmes in schools, with approximately 112,000 sitting the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate examinations each year.

There are some 870,000 students following first and second level programmes in schools, with approximately 112,000 sitting the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate examinations each year.

Over 59,000 teachers are paid from funds administered by the Department across first and second level schools.

Key concerns within the system are to

  • Ensure the supply of school places for the expanding population
  • Promote social inclusion, address educational disadvantage, and provide supports for the successful integration to the optimum extent of students with special needs into mainstream settings at every level of the system
  • Ensure a broad and balanced education which meets personal, social, and economic needs and provides a range of choices to meet the diverse needs and interests of students
  • Promote intercultural education, the integration of newcomer pupils and addressing the needs of those for whom English is not the mother tongue
  • Strengthen ICT, vocational and language skills and promote increased participation in mathematics, science, engineering and technology in second level education, and encourage more students to seek third level and career options in this area
  • Promote the national strategy for Science Technology and Innovation, enhancing third level industry collaboration, promoting excellence and strategic innovation, significantly increasing the numbers of post graduate students and researchers in the system, and promoting world class transnational research and development capability in areas critical to economic and social development
  • Promote and market Ireland as a centre of excellence for international students in further and higher education and in English language training centres.

Our education system must continue to evolve in order to maintain quality relevance and inclusion in a changing world.

The Irish education system is structured as follows:

Early childhood education ~ This applies to children aged 0-6. In general, early childhood education is provided in the private sector in crèches, naíonraí (through the medium of Irish) and childcare settings, and in child care programmes funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.   These programmes include a free pre-school year for children aged from 3 years and 2 months to 4 years and 7 months, which was introduced in January 2010. The Department of Education and Skills funds intervention programmes for children at risk of educational disadvantage and for children with special needs. The provision in primary schools for children aged 4-6 is classified as pre-primary education.

The Department has funded the development of Aistear a curriculum framework for early learning which was developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and Síolta, a quality framework for early childhood development, which was developed by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education.

Primary level ~ Nearly 40% of four-year-olds and almost all five-year olds are enrolled in infant classes in primary schools.  They complete 8 years in primary school.  There are some 3,300 primary national schools, catering for of the order of 536,317 pupils.  Approximately 32,800 teachers are employed at primary level.

Post Primary level ~ The post-primary education sector comprises secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools.  Secondary schools are privately owned and managed.  Vocational schools are state-established and administered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs), while community and comprehensive schools are managed by Boards of Management of differing compositions.

Post-primary education consists of a three-year Junior Cycle (lower secondary), followed by a two or three-year Senior Cycle (upper secondary), depending on whether the optional Transition Year (TY) is taken.

Students usually begin the Junior Cycle at age 12.  The Junior Certificate examination is taken after three years.  The main objective of the Junior Cycle is for students to complete a broad and balanced curriculum, and to develop the knowledge and skills that will enable them to proceed to Senior Cycle education. A new Framework for Junior Cycle is being implemented on a phased basis beginning in September 2014 with the introduction of a new specification in English.

The Senior Cycle caters for students in the 15 to 18 year age group.  It includes an optional Transition Year, which follows immediately after the Junior Cycle.  TY provides an opportunity for students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, including work experience, over the course of a year that is free from formal examinations.

During the final two years of Senior Cycle students take one of the three programmes, each leading to a State Examination: the traditional Leaving Certificate (LCE), the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) or the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA).

  • The Leaving Certificate ~ The traditional Leaving Certificate examination is the terminal examination of post-primary education and is taken when students are typically 17 or 18 years of age.  Syllabuses are available in more than 30 subjects and students are required to take at least five subjects, one of which must be Irish.
  • The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme ~ The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) is similar to the traditional Leaving Certificate Programme, with a concentration of technical subjects and some additional modules which have a vocational focus.
  • The Leaving Certificate Applied Programme ~ The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) Programme is a self-contained two-year course, intended to meet the needs of those students who are not adequately catered for by other Leaving Certificate programmes.  It is a person-centred course involving a cross-curricular approach rather than a subject based structure.

Related Links:

Syllabuses and Prescribed material

Curriculum and Syllabus 

Further Education and training ~ courses are available in a wide range of disciplines covering such areas as business administration, ICT, electronics, multi-media, art craft and design, journalism, tourism and catering, childcare, construction, film, radio and sound, animation and equestrian studies. Certification is provided through the National Framework Qualifications.

SOLAS operates under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills and, in conjunction with the Education and Training Boards, is responsible for the integration, coordination and funding of a wide range of further education and training programmes. Some 34,000 learners participate in Post Leaving Certificate Programmes annually.

Third Level or Higher Education ~ 31 Third Level colleges are funded by the Department providing services to over 164,800 full-time students (7 Universities, 14 Institutes of Technology, including the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and 7 Colleges of Education*).

*Since 2013 Teacher Education is part of the university sector as follows:

  • DCU—St. Patricks College, Drumcondra—Mater Dei Institute of Education—Church of Ireland College of Education (full merger)
  • Maynooth University—Froebel College (full merger)
  • TCD—UCD—Marino Institute of Education—NCAD (collaborative centre)
  • UL—MIC—LIT (collaborative centre)
  • UCC—CIT (collaborative arrangements)
  • NUIG—St. Angela’s College—GMIT teacher education programme (full merger)

A number of other third level institutions additionally provide specialist education in such fields as art and design, medicine, business studies, rural development, theology, music and law.

Click here for a full list of these institutions.

What is the size and scope of the sector?

There are over 4,000 schools in Ireland, between primary and second, employing over 59,000 Teachers. Schools also employ almost 12,000 Special Needs Assistants as well as Secretaries and Care-takers.

In Higher Education, 31 colleges provide services to over 173,000 full-time students and employ over 23,000 staff.

Source: Ireland's Education & Training Sector ~ Overview of Service Delivery and Reform, DES, 2015.

Education policy in Ireland is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Skills. The Department is headed by a Minister who may be assisted by a Minister(s) of State. 

What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years

Teacher Training ~ The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020 and the work of the Teaching Council is the driving force for a number of reforms affecting Initial Teacher Education (ITE). This is important work which will benefit future generations and society as a whole.

A major programme of reform of ITE courses as part of the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy is taking place. Significant and substantial improvements have been made to primary and post primary ITE courses, which include both the reconfiguration of the content and increasing the duration of many courses.

Digital Strategy  ~ A new Digital Strategy has also been published that will transform our approach to using technology to improve teaching and learning.

Junior Cycle ~ The New Framework for Junior cycle is being implemented in a phased manner.

Senior Cycle ~ A new CAO points system has been implemented removing some of the unnecessary pressure on students and encouraging them to be ambitious with their learning.

Further Education and Training ~ The Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019 outlines the changes in this sector.  16 local Education and Training Boards (ETBs) have been established to replace the existing 33 Vocational Education Committees. As part of the establishment of the ETBs, 19 training centres have been transferred from SOLAS to the ETBs. 

Apprenticeship ~ New apprenticeships have been identified and developed, including some at degree level, with others coming on stream in the coming months and a further call for proposals issued in 2017.

Higher Education ~ A major reform programme is being advanced in line with the Higher Education Strategy, to improve the quality of the experience of students, to improve the quality of the outcomes from the system and to enhance accountability and the efficient use of resources.

Institutes of Technology ~ The Technological Universities Bill continues to be the subject of Government decision. It provides the legal underpinning for the proposed merger of Institutes of Technology, the establishment of Technological Universities and the reform of governing bodies in the Institutes of Technology.

Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?

Teaching

Teaching at primary and second level is a much sought after career. Certain skill shortages are being experienced, partly due to the number of newly qualified teachers who opt to teach abroad, and partly due to the demand of skills in specific subject areas such as Physics and Irish.

The work is challenging and teachers are expected to continue to engage in continuing professional development to keep pace with changing needs, curriculum reform, integration of ICT and innovation in teaching and learning approaches.

Training

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) plays a key role in advising on future enterprise skills needs and any emerging gaps. Recent reports published by the EGFSN indicate that the current needs of enterprise are in the areas of High-Level ICT and Manufacturing; Skills to Trade Internationally combined with a Foreign Language; International Financial Services and Entrepreneurship.

Springboard

In supporting unemployed people to upskill and reskill the Department of Education and Skills has launched two new competitive funding streams at higher education level that address the specific skills needs of industry and support job seekers into employment - Springboard and the ICT Skills Conversion programme.

Springboard is a specific initiative that strategically targets funding of free part-time higher education courses to enable unemployed people who have lost jobs in sectors where employment levels will not return, to upskill or reskill in areas where there are identified labour market skills shortages or employment opportunities. The courses, which are at level 6 (higher certificate) to level 9 (master’s degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications, are delivered in public and private higher education providers around the country. All courses approved for funding under Springboard are in areas of identified skills needs and are selected by an independent panel with industry and educational expertise, following a competitive call for proposals. Details of Springboard courses and the eligibility criteria for participation are available on the dedicated information and applications website www.springboardcourses.ie

ICT Skills Conversion Programme

The ICT Skills Conversion programmes are provided as part of the joint Government-Industry ICT Action Plan. Jobseekers with a Level 8 qualification are eligible to apply for the conversion programmes. The courses, which are free of charge to participants, are all highly intensive and lead to an honours degree award (NFQ level 8) in computer science. Courses are designed and delivered in partnership with industry and include a work placement of 3 to 6 months duration. Further information is available at www.ictskills.ie