Hindle hails role of private training providers

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Director General of the Department of Education, Duncan Hindle officially opened the annual conference of the Association of Private Providers of Education and Training providers and hailed the increasingly warm relationship between the two bodies.

"We look to education to redress things that have gone wrong. There is an enormous amount to be done and we must address skills problem together,' said Hindle.

Hindle?s first comments were on the review of the National Qualifications Framework which has been dragging on for a number of years. "We recognise that there has been a review and regrettably that review is not concluded,' said Hindle .

However the Director General explained that officials from the departments of Education and Labour had recently met to try to bring the process to conclusion and expressed his hope that they would be able to present proposals to the ministers soon.

Hindle also addressed some broader concerns about the current education and training environment. "The system is too dispersed, with responsibilities and accountabilities too widely spread. It must be a driven process,' he stated.

Much attention in recent months has been focused on the process of registration for private providers of Further Education and Training which recently closed.

Hindle announced that with a week to go before the closing date just under 100 private providers had lodged their applications for registration. By the closing date more than 260 private providers had registered.

The Department of Education is of the view that this number is close to the total number of private training providers who are required to register. "Clearly there is a sense of wanting to comply,' Hindle said.

The process required all private training providers who offer courses towards a qualification at levels 2 to 4 on the National Qualifications Framework to register with the Department of Education. While the process of accreditation is concerned with the quality of the education and training delivered, the registration process is more concerned with the financial viability of the

"The time of over-burocratic regulations has largely passed us by,' said Hindle, "we are into a much more developmental mode, trying to facilitate, support and sustain institutions'.

The process of licensing institutions is underway and the next phase will be the monitoring to ensure that registered providers maintain their standards. "Provision of education is about people?s lives and private providers will be evaluated on an ongoing basis - Registration is not for life,'said Hindle.

"We have consciously adopted a developmental approach, and I think our willingness to grant provisional registration shows this'.

Appetd Chairperson Rooksana Rajab, speaking at the opening session, called for greater recognition of the contribution that private providers are making, to their learners and to the economy. "Appetd members offer Market related programmes that meet the needs of industry,' she said.

Alan Hammond