Third-level education is not best place for everybody, parents told

Date Uploaded: 16/08/2016

Irish parents need to stop encouraging their children to attend third-level education straight after secondary school, according to the General Secretary of The Education and Training Boards (ETBs) Michael Moriarty.

"There is a fixation with going to third level directly from secondary school, and a look at the failure rates after the first year of university makes it clear that a large number of people have been inappropriately placed - and that maybe third level isn't the best place for them," Moriarty told the Sunday Independent.

"We need to let the mothers and fathers of Ireland know that further education and apprenticeships are comparable in status and value to third level, and there really is a fantastic future for their kids if they go down this route.

"Qualifications are not the same as skills, and industry wants skills," he added. "I work very closely with industry, and again and again they say 'please do not send us people with third-level degrees or even a Master's degree in something, and no practical skills.'"

The ETBs, which replaced both the old VEC training model and Fas, now manages one-third of all second-level schools in the country and provides further education and training to over 200,000 adults every year.

He believes that the apprenticeship model, which is due to expand rapidly in the coming years, will allow Ireland to address the current skills shortage, while allowing young people to both 'earn and learn' simultaneously.

"An apprenticeship council has been set up and it recommended 25 new apprenticeships, with eight to 10 of those proposed to start this September in things like commis chef, electrical engineering, insurance practitioner and accounting technician," he said.

Ireland currently has the greatest proportion of young people with third-level qualifications in the EU. However, Ireland lags far behind other EU countries when it comes to apprenticeships.

"There are 450 apprenticeships across Germany. We have 27 - so now there's a rush to expand that. We need to respond to those in industry who want job-ready people.

"About 40pc of EU businesses experience shortages when it comes to finding employees with the right skills, so we are responding to this."

Some 69pc of school-leavers transfer directly into higher-education institutes in Ireland every year. However, on average, 16pc will drop out during their first year.


Journalist: Joanna Kiernan

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