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Written Answers - Vocational Education Committees

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 752 No. 2

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 100.  Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the progress made to date in respect of the amalgamation of the Louth and Meath Vocational Education Committee bodies; when he expects the amalgamated body to move to Drogheda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3214/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn In October 2011, my officials concluded an agreement with SIPTU, the trade union representing the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of VECs, on a redeployment scheme for CEOs in the context of the Croke Park agreement. This scheme will be used, in the first instance, for determining the appointment of CEOs to the new Education and Training Boards, following the enactment of the relevant legislation.

[331]The agreed scheme provides an opportunity for those appointed (other than in a temporary acting capacity) in the grade of CEO of a Vocational Education Committee to elect for redeployment to the new CEO positions. Where there is more than one volunteer for any of the new CEO positions, the scheme provides for the position to be offered, in the first instance, to the most senior eligible volunteer.

In the event that the elective process does not result in the filling of all of the posts, the scheme provides for assignment of an existing permanent CEO to a post for which s/he has not volunteered or for appointment of a holder of an analogous post in the Public Service to any of the available positions in accordance with the provisions of the Croke Park agreement.

In October of last year, I finalised and announced my decision in relation to the location of headquarters of the merged VECs. My officials are currently in discussion with SIPTU regarding the salary scales which each of the CEO positions will attract. Details of the salary which each of the CEO positions in the new Boards will attract are required under the scheme in order to inform the elective redeployment of Chief Executive Officers.

Also in October of last year, following approval of the Government, in a new way of doing business, I referred the General Scheme of an Education and Training Boards Bill to the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education. This Bill is a substantial piece of legislation which will consolidate the existing nine Vocational Education Acts and will provide for the legal establishment of the Education and Training Boards. I have been invited to appear before the Joint Committee later this month, to discuss the Joint Committee’s report on the Heads of the Bill, which it published last month. The Bill is expected to be introduced to the Oireachtas in the first half of this year and I am hopeful that the new Boards will be in place and that CEOs will have been appointed to them before the end of this calendar year.

In relation to the specific merger of Co. Louth VEC and Co. Meath VEC as you know I have decided that the headquarters of the Education and Training Board will be in Drogheda. Redeployment of staff from both Dundalk and Navan to Drogheda is possible under the Croke Park agreement. However I expect that the offices in both Dundalk and Navan will remain open for some time and that the approach to redeployment will be measured and considered.

It will be a matter for the CEO of the new Education and Training Board to work through and judge what the best approach is to ensure the optimum approach to service delivery. The establishment of SOLAS is also likely to have a bearing on the precise arrangements to be made.

I want to make clear that my Department will not be forcing any one size fits all approach to staff deployment and office accommodation by the new Education and Training Boards. We will be receptive to any reasonable and sensible arrangements that are the best fit for the needs of the areas served by the new board.

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