SOLAS’s function is to develop and implement a national strategy for the delivery of further education and training. It is to consult with the Department of Social Protection and employers in relation to the types of education and training programs to be funded by the authority and delivered by public and other bodies.
SOLAS may consult with other entities involved in training and providers of education and training programs including Enterprise Ireland, Teagasc, Quality and Qualifications Ireland and employers.SOLAS is to prepare and submit five-year national strategies for the provision of further education and training. It must have regard to the directions of the Minister.
SOLAS may advance funding to training and other bodies for the provision of further education and training programs. It may provide and arrange for the provision of training for employment and assist in the coordination of training by persons other than the body itself. It may assess whether or not boards and other bodies engaged in the provision of further education and training to whom monies have been advanced, perform their functions in an economic, efficient and effective manner.
It may consult with the Minister for Social Protection to promote, encourage and facilitate the placement of persons who are in receipt of a Jobseekers Allowance or Benefit, in further education or training programs. It may promote cooperation between training bodies and other bodies involved in the provision of further education and programmes.
It may develop and facilitate the development of new and existing further education and training programs. This includes the establishment of assistance designed to monitor the quality of the education and training concerned for the purpose of ensuring that the programmes serve their purpose.
SOLAS provides and assesses the provision of training to persons charged with the delivery of further education and training programs for which monies have been advanced by SOLAS. It advises the Minister generally in relation to any matter concerning its functions.
The Further Education and Training Act 2009 established SOLAS and provided for the dissolution of FÁS. It also provides for the transfer of the staff and property of FAS Training Division to the newly formed Education and Training Boards. SOLAS is the further education and skills service after the Irish acronym for the same.
The SOLAS board consists of 11 members and a chairman. Nine are appointed by the Minister following consultation with Ministers of Social Protection and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
They are to be persons who in the opinion of the Minister has expertise and experience in matters concerned with SOLAS’s functions and matters concerned with finance, trade, commerce, corporate governance and public administration. One person is to be nominated by the Minister for Social Protection.
SOLAS is to have a Chief Executive. He or she is to be appointed by SOLAS with the consent of the Minister. The Chief Executive is to be accountable to the Public Accounts Committee. He is also to be accountable to other committees established by the Houses of the Oireachtas.
SOLAS is to prepare and submit to the Minister, a five-year national strategy for the provision of further education and training. It is to have regard to the directions of the Minister and the likely cost of implementing the plan. It is to have regard to consultations with the Minister together with the Ministers for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Social Protection.
SOLAS must submit three yearly strategies to the Minister. The Minister is to lay copies before the Oireachtas. SOLAS is to keep accounts in a form approved by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Public Enterprise and Reform.
SOLAS is to submit annual reports to the Minister setting out its activities for the previous year. They are to be laid before the Oireachtas.
The legislation provides for the appointment of staff and their conditions of appointment with the approval of the Minister for Public Expenditure. Existing FAS staff were transferred to SOLAS on at least the same terms and conditions of employment. Superannuation benefits and schemes are to continue on the same terms as applied with FAS.
There are provisions to protect whistle-blowers who report offences or breaches of the rules of law or provisions or other serious wrongdoing in relation to SOLAS in good faith. Such persons are protected from victimisation. The making of a false statement is an offence.
The Minister is to advance funds to SOLAS out of monies provided by the Oireachtas and the National Training Fund. SOLAS may borrow money with the approval of the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
SOLAS may provide grants on such terms and conditions to public and private training bodies as it sees fit with the consent of the Minister. The Department is to be informed of contraventions of terms and conditions.
FAS is dissolved and its assets, liabilities, ongoing contract, employees, etc. are transferred to SOLAS.