I thank Deputy Pringle for his important question. My Department and SOLAS fund English for speakers of other languages training for migrants through the 16 education and training boards, ETBs.
Adult programme refugees have access to an initial eight-week language training and orientation programme in a number of ETBs under the resettlement strand of the Irish refugee protection programme. Following resettlement in the community, a full language and training programme is put in place by the ETBs for up to 20 hours per week, for a period of one year.
Outside the arrangements for programme refugees, contact hours for English language learners are determined at local level by ETBs. These decisions are based on local demand and learner skill requirements and ETBs discuss these demands and service requirements with SOLAS as part of the annual funding process.
An analysis of the data on reported beneficiaries and expenditure for English for speakers of other languages and refugee resettlement, up to and including October 2018, indicates that 14,749 beneficiaries availed of English for speakers of other languages training, while 1,341 beneficiaries availed of the refugee resettlement programme.
Combined expenditure for English for speakers of other languages training and refugee resettlement was reported as €5.4 million, with a combined beneficiary total of 16,090.
In March 2018, SOLAS and Education and Training Boards Ireland published a report entitled "English language provision and language assessment for low-skilled and unemployed migrants. Recommendations for good practice at NFQ levels 1-3 in ETBs". The report acknowledges that progress can be slow with some learners due to less intensive provision and insufficient opportunity for them to use their English outside the classroom. The report recommends that provision be for a minimum of 200 hours per year.
The report’s recommendations, including the movement towards more intensive provision, are being progressed by SOLAS and the ETBs.