Case study - SOLAS re-engagement

SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority manages a range of further education and training programmes which include 27 craft apprenticeships, traineeships, Skills to Advance, eCollege and the European Globalisation Fund.

Apprentices on a building site

As a provider SOLAS is required to have its quality assurance procedures for any of these programmes that lead to QQI awards, approved by QQI.

At a national level, change is pending in the apprenticeship area. On 2 August 2020, Minister Harris announced the launch of a consultation process on a new Action Plan for Apprenticeship. The new action plan is intended to provide an opportunity to build on the lessons learned from the introduction of consortia-led programmes and the experience of the past to deliver a new robust and dynamic governance and funding system for national apprenticeship programmes. This Action Plan for Apprenticeships will set out a five-year pathway to embed apprenticeship in enterprise and increase the diversity of learners who choose apprenticeship programmes.

This means that while current programmes are ongoing and need effective and transparent quality assurance by SOLAS, the governance configuration could change significantly in the medium term. If this happens, the overarching QA and governance may need to be restructured and will require further approval by QQI when developed.

It was recognised by all parties that SOLAS’quality assurance will need to evolve to adapt to this new scenario and that approval of current QA procedures would reflect this reality. In December 2020, following a series of senior level interactions between the two organisations, QQI approved with conditions, SOLAS’ current QA procedures for craft apprenticeships.