Further Education And Training Sector Here To Help National Response To COVID-19 – SOLAS

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The further education and training sector is here to provide support to frontline staff, learners, and employers.  That’s according to SOLAS, the further education and training authority.

Commenting today (16.04.2020), Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, said “Our professional, home, and social lives have changed beyond recognition. We are living in a time of stress and uncertainty, and we understand that this is a challenging time for everyone.

“The further education and training sector is doing all it can to help frontline staff, learners, and employers throughout the Covid-19 crisis.”

Supporting healthcare workers

“ETBs around the country are looking at where there are urgent skills gaps as a result of Covid-19, and how they can help to fill these gaps. One such example is Laois Offaly Education and Training Board, who are currently providing bitesize online training in Infection Prevention and Control to those with the sufficient minimum qualifications, which will increase the number of frontline staff tackling the crisis.

“Some ETBs have donated their PPE equipment to frontline workers, and are using their 3D printing technology to produce face masks. ETBs are also using their training kitchens to prepare meals for healthcare staff; and have given the use of their vehicles to organisations and people who need it most.”

Moving to online learning

Mr. Brownlee continued: “The safety of our learners and tutors is our priority, and from webinars to Zoom, we’re delighted to see ETBs nationwide facilitating their learners, apprentices and tutors with online learning.

“SOLAS has also made its eCollege platform available free of charge – which means those already doing a FET course who would like to augment their learning, and those who have recently become unemployed or had their hours reduced, can upskill and reskill in a range of digital skills.”

Supporting Employers

“The crisis will have a long-term impact on our economy, on workers, and employers. We’re currently working hard to make sure that SOLAS will be there to meet the needs of workers and employers once this crisis has passed, by providing upskilling and reskilling courses to the sectors who will need it most urgently.” said Mr. Brownlee.

Encouraging community learning

According to Mr. Brownlee:  “We understand that for parents with literacy difficulties, helping children with their schoolwork can be daunting. NALA is offering free, over-the-phone tuition on topics ranging from fun learning resources to kids, to support for those who may need help understanding health information, and ETBs continue to offer supports at this time.”

Also commenting on the measures the FET sector is taking was Nessa White, General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland, who said “I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all of our staff and students, who have done everything in their power to adapt to these challenging circumstances. I am very proud that we have been able to ensure the continuity of the education of our students and learners. I would ask all learners and ETB staff members to ensure that they adhere to Government guidelines in place during this period. I have no doubt that we will overcome this difficult period, and that in the meantime our community of learners will be provided with the education and support they deserve”.

Further information on SOLAS can be found here: www.solas.ie.

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