July has heralded a new era for the further education and training sector in Westmeath.
Following the enactment of the Education and Training Boards Act (2013 ), County Westmeath VEC and County Longford VEC have been amalgamated to form Longford and Westmeath Education and Training Board (LWETB ). This follows a lengthy process of consultation with the VECs nationally and will ultimately see the inclusion of FÁS, Training Services (Midlands ) coming under the remit of the ETB when SOLAS, the National Training Authority is established.
County Westmeath VEC, which was established in 1930, marked the end of its involvement in second level and further education when it held a celebration in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone recently. Speaking at the celebration, Cllr Mick Dollard, outgoing chairperson of Westmeath VEC, said “The VEC had shown a longstanding commitment to providing education and training for a wide cross-section of people in the county”.
He praised the work of the current and previous CEOs, committees, staff, teachers, and tutors. He said that “without their continued help and support it would have been impossible to reach out to so many individuals, giving each and every one of them the opportunity to value self-improvement through education and learning”.
Speaking from the LWETB’s head office in Marlinstown, Mullingar, Rina McKenna, assistant chief executive LWETB said that “LWETB will have eight schools under its remit, along with 10 further education centres stretching from Granard to Athlone. “It will be business as usual for all the teaching and administration staff and the same quality of educational opportunities will be available to our learners in the Community Colleges, in Youthreach and VTOS and in our Basic Skills and Community Education programmes.”
Currently Ms Rosemary Johnston, previously acting CEO of Longford VEC is acting chief executive for the newly formed LWETB. Ms McKenna went on to say that she was looking forward to the appointment of Mr Christy Duffy as the new chief executive of the LWETB. Mr Duffy, who hails from Louth, is currently employed as Adult Education Officer for Meath VEC. She said that staff look forward to him taking up the post of chief executive of Longford and Westmeath ETB shortly.