Wednesday, 28 April 2021
Department of Education and Skills
755. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of meetings he or his officials have had with stakeholders from the English language school sector; the status of his plans to ensure the survival of the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21625/21]
English language education (ELE) in Ireland is a broad and diverse sector with the vast majority of activity undertaken by private sector providers. I am aware of the important contribution made by this sector and of the challenges that are being encountered given the substantial impact that the Covid-19 outbreak has had on students, teachers and providers.
As part of the response to the pandemic, my Department established a specific Working Group for this sector in March 2020 which has met 11 times to date. This group is comprised of representatives of relevant Government Departments and sectoral representatives of staff, students and providers. Further to the meetings of the Working Group, there has been a substantial level of engagement between my Department and representatives from the ELE sector over this period both bilaterally and in other forums.
As part of this process, the representative bodies for English language education providers have engaged with the Working Group surrounding their proposals for supports to aid the recovery of this sector. In this forum, the providers have been advised of the measures introduced by Government, as part of the wider Covid-19 response, to support businesses at this time. These measures included the temporary wages subsidy scheme (TWSS) to facilitate employers to keep employees on the payroll during the initial period of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to retain this link for when business increases after the crisis. Following the conclusion of the TWSS last August, it was superseded by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) which continues to provide payroll support to businesses. In addition to the subsidy that is being provided via the EWSS, this scheme also provides for a reduction in Employers PRSI.
Further to the above, the ELE provider representatives have been advised of the eligibility of businesses in this sector to apply, where appropriate, for further business supports made available by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment via Enterprise Ireland and through its network of Local Enterprise Offices. A full list of these supports and related information is available for providers here: .
My Department has received the most recent proposals for supports from the sector and is continuing to engage with ELE provider representatives in this regard as this sector prepares to move towards re-opening, in line with public health guidelines, and continues on a path to recovery.