ETBs looks to the future, with launch of national research

One in three people want co-educational and multi-denominational education options. Pictured to mark the release of new research by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) were RTÉ newsreader and ETB graduate, Sharon Tobin; General Secretary of ETBI, Paddy Lavelle and City of Dublin ETB learner, Carly Williams. According to the research over a third of people want education and training options that are free, co-educational, multi-denominational, and located close to their home. (Pic: Marc O'Sullivan)

Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) have released new market research which shows strong public support for education and training programmes delivered by ETBs nationwide.

The findings reveal over a third of people want education and training options that are free, co-educational, multi-denominational, and located close to their home.

The release of the research coincides with the official launch of the organisation’s strategy statement – which outlines their ambitions for the coming three years.

On Thursday, 17th February, representatives from ETB’s nationwide attended an online event, ‘Stronger Together: ETBs for the Future’, which explored the opportunities and challenges for the ETB sector in the delivery of education and training programmes.

Well positioned

Commenting last Friday, Paddy Lavelle, General Secretary of ETBI, said: “Our research findings show the public’s preference for education provision that is community-based, free and co-ed – and that’s exactly what ETBs nationwide offer. We operate in every county in the Republic of Ireland, providing education across multiple levels from primary school provision to night classes.

“Despite the extent of our education provision, many people are unaware of the scale of services we provide. This has come through in the survey also – while almost half of people recognise that ETBs are regional education and training bodies, much fewer realise the extent to which ETBs, for example, run primary and post-primary schools; provide youth services and apprenticeships; or operate Further Education and Training centres.

“We have some progress to make on awareness of the work and ethos of ETBs, and the time is ripe for that. With the Government target of 400 multidenominational schools by 2030, ETBs are well positioned to run many of these new schools. Our schools are multidenominational, co-educational and State-run, and it will be important – in the coming years – for us to ensure parents and students nationwide are aware of this.”

Wider work of ETBs

The findings released by ETBI, are based on research undertaken by B&A in January 2022, focusing on the characteristics that parents, families, and individuals prioritise when selecting education and training providers at all levels.

A survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,001 adults, aged 16+. Key findings include:

  • When deciding on education and training options for themselves and their families, respondents placed the most importance on free provision (68%), followed by proximity to their home (63%), the availability of primary and secondary school options that share the same ethos and values (54%), co-education (53%), multi-denominational (39%), State-run (33%), and Irish-language provision (26%).
  • For Further Education and Training (FET) provision specifically, respondents prioritised: a recognised qualification / accreditation (79%) followed by easily accessible information on the course (73%) and the provision of skills to aid in the development of careers (72%).
  • 16% of those surveyed said either they themselves or a family member had participated in an education or training course with an ETB. Of those, the vast majority (73%) had participated in FET provision, including apprenticeships; 33% had attended an ETB-run school at either primary (13%) or secondary (20%) levels; 6% had participated in a youth service provided by an ETB (ETB youth service provision covers 10 to 24-year-olds).
  • Those who participated in education or training with an ETB rated it highly. 84% of participants gave their experience a rating of 5 out of 7 or higher, with particularly positive feedback on ETB FET provision, including apprenticeships.