Tuesday, 9 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Further and Higher Education
I thank Deputy Niamh Smyth. I am taking this on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Harris. The Deputy and I both know if there was good news the Minister, Deputy Harris, would be here. It would not be wee Anne from Galway delivering it. I am taking the Topical Issue all the same nonetheless.
I thank the Deputy for raising this matter as it gives me the opportunity to set out for the House the position with regard to Cavan Institute and further education provision for Cavan town. Cavan Institute was established, as the Deputy said, in 1985 and has provided a high-quality educational service to the people of Cavan and beyond ever since. Under the management of Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board, CMETB, the institute has played a central part in developments in further education through innovative course development and top-class, industry-standard facilities. The institute offers courses in business, humanities, creative practices, computing, engineering, healthcare, sport, physical therapies, beauty therapy, hairdressing and science. The institute was initially set up on Main Street in Cavan, and was formerly known as Cavan College of Further Studies. Cavan Institute has multiple rented locations across the town.
In March 2012, CMETB acquired a former Army barracks, a large site of 18 acres, with a view to refurbishing and adapting the site and its buildings to create, as the Deputy rightly said, a further education and training, FET, campus. Development of the barracks site provides an opportunity to centralise FET service provision, create opportunities for expansion and eliminate the need for various rented temporary accommodation around Cavan town. CMETB has secured funding to progress the development of a new FET centre of excellence in supply chain logistics and procurement. This will support the development of business transformation and workforce skills in Cavan, the north east and nationally. I suppose the location has been chosen in recognition of Cavan's status as a Border town.
This project is part of a €3 million investment for local projects under the Border enterprise development fund, which is an economic stimulus package established for the Border region, and with additional funding from SOLAS and the Department. It is proposed to locate the new training centre at CMETB's FET campus. The project is a direct response to current industry requirements and emerging skills needs in the region, with a vision to have a positive impact on the region's competitiveness, job security and employment growth.
CMETB requested capital investment to relocate its FET operations from Main Street and Cootehill Road to the barracks site and also for the creation of the supply chain logistics and procurement centre of excellence, both by means of modular units. Funding was approved in August of this year by the Department for works associated with delivery of this interim accommodation. I suppose the use of the word "interim" in the Minister's script is an acknowledgement of what Deputy Niamh Smyth has referred to is an interim arrangement. The project is currently being progressed by the ETB, with discussions ongoing with the modular unit provider.
I will take on board everything that Deputy Niamh Smyth has said. The Deputy has raised some valuable points in relation to the cost of the buildings leased. As a former chair of Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board, I would say that sometimes we have to look at what is left on the leases. Maybe that is a stumbling block, as to what length is left on the leases and whether they are able to come out of the leases. In all fairness, they have a site. There is a willingness from the Government to come totally on board. Other than the fact that we have issues regarding containers or whatever, I do not understand why we are not progressing it further.