7 March 2017
By Tom O’Sullivan
The achievements of ‘Community Training Centres’ nationwide over the past 40 years were yesterday celebrated at a special ruby anniversary event in the Printworks Room of Dublin Castle. Representatives from Community Training Centres in Blackpool and Mayfield, were on hand to receive a specially-commissioned plaque from the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, who congratulated the centres on their achievements on behalf of young people.
For the past four decades, Community Training Centres nationwide have been providing second-chance education to early school leavers, with over 100,000 young people supported in making the transition to work or further education.
Tim Meagher, Chair of Blackpool Community Youth Training Centre, commented:
“2017 is a very special year as we celebrate the achievements of our community training centres and learners over the years. From the beginning, Community Training Centres had, in general, three significant characteristics which they still retain today. Firstly, we are firmly rooted in our local community. Secondly, programmes are based on experiential learning with recognised qualifications. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the programme is focused on individual learner needs. These principles hold true, and are as apt today, as they ever were despite the very different educational, training, employment and societal landscapes.
“For many young people, when they first came through our doors they had reached a point where life’s possibilities had seemed out of reach. Some had come to feel excluded from areas of life that give us all a sense of meaning and belonging, both in our communities and in the workplace. It has been our greatest honour to be able to support so many young people in developing their skills and nurturing their talents in order to reach their full potential. As a voluntary director, I, along with all our Community Training Centre Boards, am proud to be associated with supporting our learners on their life journey.”
Adapting to Changing Needs
Guss O’Connell, Chairperson of the Irish Association of Community Training Organisations, the national representative body for the network of 35 Community Training Centres nationwide, commented:
“The key element of the success of Community Training Centres has been putting the learner at the core of everything that we do. We work with each person to form a personalised individual learning plan that looks at where they have come from, where they want to get to, and how we are going to get there together. Of course, while this year we celebrate our ruby anniversary, our sights are firmly set on the next 40 years. For as long as young people need our support, we will never stop ensuring that we remain nimble and in touch so that we continue to remain relevant and responsive in adapting to changing needs.”
Community Training Centres are a primary delivery model for the Education Training Boards’ strand of the Youthreach programme. Since 1977, they have been providing a wide range of quality-assured educational, employment training and life skills development programmes in local communities to support early school leavers under 25 years in the transition to further education and the workplace. Community Training Centres are funded by the Department of Education & Skills through SOLAS and local Education and Training Boards.