SOLAS distributes further education and training (FET) grants to the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) through a strategic funding process covering all of their further education and training programmes, including adult literacy. The ETBs annually bid for funding, in line with their individual three-year strategic performance agreement with SOLAS.
The funding process is governed by annual planning and funding parameters and requirements set by SOLAS following consultation with the Department of Education and Skills and other Government Departments. These planning and funding parameters and requirements reflect the 6 overall strategic targets set for FET provision. These targets form the basis for the individual ETB strategic performance agreements and, in the case of Adult Literacy, take cognisance of the recommendations presented in the FET Literacy and Numeracy Strategy.
When the overall budget for FET provision is set and the revised estimates process is complete, SOLAS give each ETB an initial funding envelope to plan against. This figure is reviewed annually in keeping with the individual ETB spending profiles.
In their individual annual planning processes, the ETBs are expected to build up their provision in line with their demographic and the identified needs of their learners, employers and communities.
The ETBs allocate funding at local level from their overall envelope of funding in accordance with their strategic performance agreement. Therefore the ETB has control on how much they wish to allocate locally to individual programmes including the adult literacy programme, which is covered under target 3 on social mobility and transversal skills development in the ETB strategic performance agreements.
The ETBs report to SOLAS three times per year. In the mid-year and September returns ETBs can request approval to change the structure of their allocation should, for example, the need occur to invest more in a particular programme. Thus flexibility within the structure of their allocation can be accommodated as local priorities emerge during the year.