Galway Roscommon ETB takes to the stage at annual education conference

Sinéad Morgan, Director of Further Education and Training at Galway Roscommon ETB (GRETB ) was a featured speaker at this year’s Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI ) Further Education and Training conference which welcomed 250 delegates from across Ireland to Athlone last week. The title for this year’s conference was ‘Pathways – Pathways to FET, Pathways in FET, Pathways from FET’.

Also contributing to the conference from GRETB was Tadhg Crowley, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, who spoke on a panel discussing the importance of flexible pathway offerings that widen access and progression. The event brought together more than 250 representatives from across the sector and featured a line-up of more than 30 speakers. Simon Harris, Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, addressed the conference on Thursday, giving the official Ministerial conference address.

Speaking ahead of the event, Minister Harris said: “Over recent years we have worked incredibly hard to ensure no one is left behind when it comes to education. No matter who you are, what your background is or what your interests are you get an opportunity to reach your full potential. This conference is a timely opportunity. The impact ETBs have had on the learners, but also on the wider communities they serve, has been transformative. This two-day event is an invaluable opportunity to come together to learn from each other, to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.”

Commenting on the future of education, general secretary of ETBI, Paddy Lavelle said: “The FET Strategy – Future FET Transforming Learning, acknowledges the key role of FET in driving both economic development and social cohesion. This roadmap for the sector is built around three core pillars of building skills; fostering inclusion; and facilitating pathways. This conference deals with one of those three pillars - pathways.”

Dr Joseph Collins, director of further education and training (FET ) at ETBI, said: “We can see clearly that Minister Harris has made significant inroads in developing an integrated, coherent and well-articulated further and higher education system in which there are no dead ends for learners. We have pathways from school to FET, within FET, between further and higher education, pathways into work and lifelong pathways which can bring people back to learning at any stage of their career or life.”

The conference took place over two days, with a full line-up of keynote speakers and panel discussions. Some of the highlights from the agenda include inputs from Dr Justin Rami, director of the Further Education and Training Research Centre at Dublin City University; David Jones, chair of the International Panel at the Transformation Office in DFHERIS; Sonya Lennon, designer, broadcaster, campaigner and a former FET learner; and David Delaney, author and motivational speaker, from University College Dublin.

Further information on the conference is available at


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