The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has criticised the failure of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) to provide central guidance and direction on the provision of apprenticeship education in ETBs and in Institutes of Technology, Technological University Dublin and Munster Technological University.
The Union, which represents 20,000 members in Post Primary, Further/Adult Education and Higher Education settings, has called for the Department to immediately issue direction that physical classes be delayed and temporary online lessons be prioritised in the current climate.
Speaking today, TUI President Martin Marjoram said:
‘Over the last number of days, we have repeatedly sought direction from DFHERIS on the status of apprenticeship education in the current climate. Apprentices have travelled from all parts of the country to participate in apprenticeship training in colleges and training centres. Regrettably, no guidelines have been issued in relation to this and it is being left in the hands of individual institutions and ETBs to decide on their approach.
This failure to provide guidance is grossly irresponsible in the context of the frightening increase in the numbers of COVID-19 cases. Our members have expressed huge levels of concern and anxiety about this situation and the ongoing silence from the Department to our repeated requests is completely unacceptable and poses a potential risk to public health.
Given the alarming national picture in terms of the pandemic, we believe it would be entirely reasonable that physical classes be temporarily delayed and where possible be replaced with online lessons instead until it is safe to return to face-to-face contact on campus.
However, with interaction on-campus scheduled for this week, this direction must issue immediately in the interests of the health and safety of students, academic staff and the wider community.
Once again, we are demanding that Minister Harris and his Department appropriately represent the sector that they are tasked with overseeing and immediately provide this guidance.’