FETAC Levels 1 and 2 Awards Ceremony 

Presented by Mary Hanafin TD, Minister for Social and Family Affairs

24 May 2008                                                                                             Photos

Seventy-two learners of eight different nationalities today became the first ever learners to achieve FETAC awards at Levels 1 and 2 of the Irish National Framework of Qualifications.

The Framework has ten levels; until now, awards have only been made at Levels 3 - 10. The learners achieving awards today signal the full activation of the framework since its establishment in 2003. Also, the new FETAC awards at Level 1 are the first in the world that are fully part of a national framework of qualifications. Mary Hanafin TD, Minister for Family and Social Affairs, presented the awards.

The learners set themselves a wide range of challenges to achieve. Some have been working for a long time to improve skills in literacy, numeracy and technology. Others have been learning for pleasure. Others again wish to participate more fully in the workforce, or perhaps to be promoted. Many simply never got the chance as children to participate in education or training opportunities because of personal or family circumstances, ill health or a learning disability. Finding a path back to learning and towards achievement is a major step for these learners, requiring a lot of personal courage and perseverance.

Some of the learners achieving awards at Levels 1 and 2 took part in the recent NALA television programme "Written Off", which documented part of their learning journey. Another group are employed by E&I Engineering in Burnfoot, Co Donegal. Co Donegal VEC was approached by the Electrical Switchgear and Busbar Trunking manufacturer to provide a broad programme which would help new employees from other countries to participate fully in a complex technological workplace environment. Confident use of correct language, improved health and safety, compliance with company policy and better retention are some of the benefits already identified arising from the programme.

All the learners, including those with intellectual disability are achieving recognition for a wide range of competencies. St Joseph’s Foundation in Cork is one of the six course providers bringing a group to the celebration; the emphasis in their programme is on enhanced independent living skills and greater quality of life. It is the first time for some of these learners to achieve any formal national qualification.

Other providers include the VECs of Limerick, North Tipperary and Dun Laoghaire. All are registered with FETAC and have developed ground breaking programmes, meeting the needs of their own communities. These programmes were among the first to be validated by FETAC. They lead the way in creating opportunities for ordinary and extraordinary people to be a part of the new knowledge based society of the 21st century.

‘Today we celebrate the first ever learners achieving these important national awards. Their FETAC awards and successful participation in learning will create more opportunities for them in education, training and employment, wherever they go. Their learning is part of the National Framework of Qualifications - it is a building block they can put to many uses, and which facilitates them reaching their full potential. We congratulate them on their success and thank their tutors and providers who supported them every step of the way.

Stan McHugh