200 VEC jobs to go as PLC courses face drop
At least 200 teaching posts will be lost and a number of post-Leaving Certificate courses are likely to be dropped as a result of spending cuts in the further education sector, it has emerged.
The Government last week announced a €13.2 million cut to the vocational education committee (VEC) sector, along with an increase to the pupil-teacher ratio at post-Leaving Cert (PLC) level.
A spokeswoman for Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn confirmed yesterday that about 200 posts would be lost, but she said the department expected there would no reduction in the number of post-Leaving Certificate places for students.
The move is likely to spark controversy at a time when there is an increased focus on directing jobless people into a variety of education or training programmes.
Some colleges have pointed out that the real number of teachers who are likely to lose their jobs could be significantly higher, given that many work part-time.
The City of Cork VEC is due to lose 24 posts, for example, but colleges locally claim that as many as 50 jobs are at risk.
Staff at one of the colleges in the city – St John’s Central College – have been warned that as many as seven of its courses, ranging from veterinary nursing to software engineering, may be lost as a result of the changes.
The Minister’s spokeswoman acknowledged that there may be some reduction in the number of courses provided.
However, she said, the department expected that there would be no reduction in the number of post-Leaving Certificate places – which currently stands at 32,688 – as a result of the budget measure.
From September 2013, the “teaching allocation”, or pupil-teacher ratio, will increase from 17-1 to 19-1 for PLC courses.
“This will bring the pupil-teacher ratio in PLC colleges, which teach motivated adults, into line with the pupil-teacher ratio in second-level schools,” the spokeswoman added. “This will result in the loss of 200 teaching posts across the sector.”
The department says PLC courses were generally classed under a number of broad headings – such as business, social care and childcare – and that VECs could alter individual class modules to preserve as many courses as possible.
“As the changes will not take effect until September, the VECs will have the opportunity to plan how best to deal with a slightly reduced allocation,” she added.
The department does not have direct responsibility for the operation of the further education sector.
While it sanctions teaching posts to the VECs, they allocate teaching posts to schools and colleges under their remit.
The Minister is due to meet the representative body for the VEC sector tomorrow to discuss their views.