Emphasis on Practical Education

Local and National Policymakers

Polytunnel at Brigit's Garden, Rosscahill, Co. Galway
Polytunnel at Brigit’s Garden, Rosscahill, Co. Galway

For far too long in Ireland, there has been an over-emphasis on academic courses in our education system. This needs to be rebalanced so that a new emphasis is given to apprenticeships, trades and practical skills, and not only academic courses.

Ireland’s current apprenticeship system needs to learn from the German and Austrian systems, which have more than 300 occupations at a variety of skill levels. This wide range compares with the Irish apprenticeship system, which currently covers only 27 trades.

We need to develop a structure for teaching trades and practical skills in traditional and new sectors for the emerging, more localised and low carbon economy. As well as catering for more traditional trades (such as plumbing and carpentry) we also need to train for sectors such as green energy and horticulture.

There also needs to be more short courses covering various practical skills such as knitting, baking, woodwork, hairdressing, computers, etc.

An emphasis on repair and maintenance classes could also be established to encourage people to repair clothing, furniture, etc., and to maintain machinery, electronic equipment, etc., instead of buying new products.
Not only do we need more courses, we also need to value vocational learning more than we currently do. It needs to be seen as a viable route into work and further career development.

GRETB (Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board), Mervue Business Park, Galway City

SOLAS (Further Education and Training Authority), Castleforbes Road, Dublin 1