Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor launches College Awareness Week

20 November 2017 

Capture DFEI

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor launches College Awareness Week with unveiling of graffiti on the walls of Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute to encourage greater engagement with further and higher education.

Murial  Minister with kids

Economic recovery provides overdue opportunity to tackle educational disadvantage

Only 1% of Travellers go on to third level, 43% of people with disabilities have not progressed beyond primary education and in areas of educational disadvantage the level of college attendance can be as low as 26%

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, TD, officially launched College Awareness Week (CAW) 2017 today (Monday 20 November) at Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute (DFEi). The annual campaign focuses on raising awareness of educational opportunities particularly amongst those who do not come from a tradition of participating in further education. The campaign encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to consider the options available to them.

Baloons  Photo Kathleen Cecila  DFEI Students

The campaign is supported by official sponsor, Perrigo, and a range of education-based organisations such as SOLAS, the Higher Education Authority, the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals and Trinity College Dublin.

The launch at DFEi emphasises CAW’s commitment to both the third level sector and the further education and training (FET) sector, which offers apprenticeships, traineeships, Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses, community and adult education and literacy services.

With the economic recovery continuing and unemployment now at 6%, a significant skills shortage is emerging in the labour market. Encouraging students into higher education, as well as further education and training, aims to ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve their full potential and skills and training that match Ireland’s labour market needs.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said, “We need to develop an inclusive system that helps all our students further hone their unique skillset. Whether it be creative, practical, academic or innate. We are reaching out to those where Further Education, Higher Education and Apprenticeships were never traditionally seen as an option. An estimated 9,500 students are currently undertaking apprenticeships in Ireland, and the Government has, this year, committed to expand the number of apprenticeships and traineeships to 50,000 by the end of 2020.   Currently there are 33,000 students completing the Post Leaving Certificate Programme and many of them will progress to Further and Higher Education and develop their skills for employment. With the help of College Awareness Week I want the Department of Education and Skills to help all our young people negotiate an education system that gives them the best chance in careers and life.”

This years marked the 50th anniversary of the introduction of free secondary school education, a watershed in access to education for students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

However, inequalities in access to further and higher education remain. For example:

  • only 1% of Travellers go on to Third Level,
  • 43% of people with disabilities have not progressed beyond primary education; and
  • in areas of educational disadvantage, the level of college attendance can be as low as 26%.

Now in its fourth year, this year’s events include an awards ceremony for Traveller students at IT Tralee; a celebration of lifelong learning for families at The Children’s House Montessori in Sallins, Kildare; farriery demonstrations at Naas Racecourse and a CAO information evening for Leaving Certificate students and parents at Archbishop McHale College, Tuam. Students will undertake work experience at the EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum and ‘job shadow’ professionals, including Chief Commissioner for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Emily Logan; Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles St; woodturner Roger Bennett and jeweller Breda Haugh.

To mark the start of the national College Awareness Week, the walls of DFEi became the canvas for graffiti artist Tadhg Burke-Kennedy who illustrated the spirit of CAW in the community.

The colourful murals identify the range of sectors involved in the CAW campaign – businesses, libraries, community centres, and schools and colleges of all kinds.

Speaking at the launch DFEi principal, Cecilia Munro, said, “Students coming to Further Education and Training (FET) bring a wealth of experience and practical knowledge, but they also need to be encouraged, fostered and facilitated to progress through the educational system. With our long history of education provision, stemming back to the early 1930s, Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute is delighted to support College Awareness Week 2017. We are eager to spread the message that education is for all and is an ongoing life-long journey.”

College Awareness Week takes place nationwide from 20-26 November 2017.

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 For further details please contact:

Amanda Glancy, PR360 0872273108/01 6371777

Rosemary Hennigan, PR360 0868825855/01 6371777