Substandard training cannot be tolerated
WHEN Solas's inaugural chairman Pat Delaney took up the role last year he freely admitted the new agency would have difficulty escaping the controversies of the past. "The new organisation has a job on its hands to walk away from its history," he told an Oireachtas committee.
That history included scandals involving foreign travel, extravagant spending and training course irregularities, all of which prompted the Government to dissolve FAS and distribute its functions to a number of State bodies.
One of these, newly created Solas, has been given responsibility for research, planning and funding training. The training itself is now being provided by education and training boards.
The reorganisation was entirely necessary as confidence in FAS qualifications had been badly damaged.
A nationwide review, conducted in 2010, showed irregularities in several FAS-funded courses run by private companies. Students on some of these courses were given better grades than they deserved, a situation which raised questions about the integrity of qualifications offered through FAS.
All of this couldn't have come at a worse time. As hundreds of thousands were losing their jobs, FAS was failing the country when it was needed the most.
With FAS gone and the country still struggling to rebound, it is crucial now that the new structures that have been put in place are not simply an exercise in rebranding but a meaningful change that will truly benefit job seekers.
There can be no tolerance for training courses which do not meet the highest standards. Too much money has been wasted in the past on sub-standard training services. If this means difficult decisions, such as terminating training contracts, then so be it.