Originally, VECs provided education at the post-primary level only. The roles of the Vocational Education Committee expanded significantly, and they came to provide a wide range of education in the second and third level areas.

Vocational Education Committees were originally established with a strong county council linkage. The linkage remained strong, but over time the role of the Department of Education and other participants has increased. Council members are still represented on the board of the successor Education and Training Boards.

The primary purpose of the Vocational Education Committee was to provide continuation and technical education. Continuation vocational education is education intended to supplement education at primary level and increase general and practical training in preparation for employment in trades, manufacture, agriculture, commerce and other industrial pursuits as well as general and practical training for the improvement of the persons in the early stages of such employment.

Technical education means education pertaining to trades, manufacture, commerce and other industrial pursuit and includes physical education. The Minister may by order amend and extend the definitions.


Generally, City Councils and County Councils areas were vocational education areas under the legislation. The Vocational Education Committee itself was a committee or entity constituted for each relevant council area as a legal entity for the purpose of exercising the functions.

The Vocational Education Committee was composed of

  • nominees and members of the Councils for the areas concerned
  • members elected by parents registered at recognized schools or centres of education established.
  • members elected by the staff,
  • members appointed from amongst persons nominated by students, trustees, staff associations, voluntary organizations and other entities.

Elections were conducted in accordance with regulations made by the Minister after consultation with various relevant bodies. There was provision for the elections by local authorities of their members and their nominees. The committees had corporate existence and continued to exist irrespective of vacancies during the currency of the term.

Vocational Education Committees me at regular intervals to conduct their business. Each VEC appointed a chairman. Minutes and records of meetings were kept. Subcommittees could be established in respect of their functions and duties.

There were provisions for the amalgamation of Vocational Education Committees. VEC could be dissolved if, following an inquiry, the Minister was satisfied that the functions were not being effectively discharged.


The functions of the VEC were to plan, coordinate and review, the provision of education and services in recognised schools and centres for education established by it.  They are to adopt a service plan. They were to make efforts to consult with Boards of Management, students, persons performing similar functions, members of staff associations and such other persons as were likely to be affected in relation to the performance of the functions. They were to cooperate with other VECs and entities providing similar services.

Each VEC appointed a chief executive officer and such other officers and employees as were necessary to perform the functions conferred by the legislation. Certain functions of VEC are reserved functions. This means that they must be undertaken by the VEC itself and not by the executive appointed by its staff.


The executive functions were performed by the chief executive officer and full time professional, officers and staff. The appointment of the chief executive officer is a reserved function of the VEC itself. Where the Minister determined that Vocational Education Committee is not performing its functions, he may transfer some functions to the chief executive officer and other specified persons entirely.

The chief executive officer must carry on and manage the administration and control of the VEC of which he is the chief executive officer. He must ensure the relevant service plan adopted is implemented. The chief executive officer may delegate functions to a member of staff subject to directions by the Minister. The chief executive officer could be required to appear to account for his functions before the public accounts committee.

A Vocational Education Committee must adopt a service plan. This must be submitted to the Minister for Education setting out the services proposed to be provided and an estimate of income and expenditure. The Minister could vary the relevant plan including provisions in relation to expenditure. There were financial controls in respect of expenditure.

A VEC was to prepare and submit a report on its functions to the Minister for Education annually.

Education Plan

The Chief Executive Officer was required to prepare an education plan every fifth year or more often if the Minister directed. It was required to be submitted to the VEC. It set out the objectives of the VEC, priorities and measures to be adopted for the purpose of achieving the objectives.

Prior to preparing an educational plan, the VEC concerned must consult with:

  • teachers at schools or centres of education established.
  • students of such schools
  • parents of students under 18, of persons likely to be affected by the plan and have a significant interest in the matters.

In preparing an educational plan the chief executive officer was to have regard to policy directions made by the Minister and financial resources likely to be available. The VEC could adopt an education plan or after consultation with the chief executive officer. It could adopt an education plan with such modifications as it considered appropriate.

The VEC could amend the education plan from time to time.

The education plan was to be submitted to the Minister and the Board of Management of each school and persons performing equivalent functions in respect of centres of education established by it. The education plan is to be reviewed each year and a statement/report thereon was to be furnished to the VEC and the Minister.


VEC was required to l prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme setting out its general policy in relation to continuing education and technical education respectively and showing the manner in which, it proposes to exercise its functions.

The VEC had powers to

  • establish and maintain schools
  • establish and maintain courses of instruction
  • assist in maintaining schools in which continuing education is provided.

Where in a continuation school or course of instruction maintained by VEC was attended by young persons who have the prospect of employment in a particular trade or business, the VEC was required to register and classify such young persons and provide instruction to provide for the educational requirements of such persons having regard to the nature of the employment.

The VEC had general powers to

  • establish and maintain technical schools within its area
  • to establish and maintain or assist in establishing and maintaining courses of instruction in the nature of technical education.
  • contribute to the expenses incurred by persons resident in its area and obtaining technical education at schools or courses outside its area.
  • aid persons resident in its area in obtaining further education at technical colleges or central technical institutions or technical training colleges or other centres of advanced technical education within or outside such area.

Establish Schools

Where the Minister is the opinion that VEC is not making adequate and suitable provisions for the supply of continuation education in its area, the Minister may require the committee to make such particular provision for the supply of such education as he may, having regard to the money available for such committee, think fit to specify and require, and thereupon it shall become and be the duty of such committee to comply in all respects with such requisition.

A Vocational Education Committee could establish in its area schools, having for its main object the provision of education, in the general principles of science, commerce, or art suited to the requirements of persons employed in positions of control or responsibility in trade or industry.

VEC have powers in relation to the acquisition of land.

Fees and Grants

Vocational Education may with the approval of the Minister charge fees for attendance at schools or courses of education. No fees are to be charged for admission to a compulsory course of instruction or for persons who attend such courses in pursuance of an obligation. Fees may be remitted.

The VEC may with the approval of the Minister establish or assist in the establishment of scholarships available to persons within or outside its area and fix the amounts and tenure thereof.

The Department of Education could make grants in respect of continuing education or technical education to VEC. The financing of Vocational Education Committee was originally funded partly by local authorities and partly by the Department of Education. Later they were funded by the Department of Education exclusively through its general vote and resources.

Inspection and Records

Departmental inspectors were entitled at all times to enter schools in respect to which any grant was made by the Minister or any school or course maintained or assisted by a VEC. It was an offence to obstruct or impede an inspector in the exercise of his functions.

It was the duty of the principal of every school in respect of which a grant was made by the Minister or school maintained by VEC to keep such registers and records as may be prescribed and to permit them to be inspected by inspectors. Attendance officers are entitled to inspect births and deaths records.


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