This post is part of the VET Gazette 1
Joan Devlin
CDETB Workplace Education coordinator
City of Dublin Education Training Board


The City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB) provides work based learning and educational opportunities under the Skills for Work Initiative under the management of the Adult Education Service.

Skills for Work initiative is part of the Government’s National Skills Strategy and the programme responds to demands and developments within various workplace settings. The focus of the Skills for Work programme is upskilling basic skills within the workplace covering basic digital skills, communications and numeracy. This initiative was introduced more than ten years ago and is 100% funded by the Department of Education and Skills through SOLAS. The programmes are promoted and delivered nationally by the ETBs and in the City of Dublin as an integral part of the CDETB Adult Education Service. 

In March 2020, just as the first lockdown was announced in Dublin because of the COVID19 pandemic, large retail stores closed their doors for business. However one group of workers never returned to their employment as the Debenhams chain in Ireland went into liquidation. The retail Union in response to the news contacted CDETB to explore what training options could be offered to the staff at such short notice, also given that because of lockdown options were limited.

DETB Adult Education Service designed and developed a tailored career options

Skills for Work initiative arranged virtual meetings with Unions and staff to discuss the needs of the workers. Following this consultation CDETB Adult Education Service designed and developed a tailored career options courses which was promoted and advertised by the trade Unions, Mandate and SIPTU, to all the Debenhams’s workers. The courses had to be developed and delivered on-line due to lockdown restrictions. The CDETB Adult Education Service arranged initial Zoom training for interested tutors to prepare them for on line delivery.

Many of the Debenhams workers had long years of service. Some students attending the programme had worked with Debenhams for ten (10) years while others had in excess of thirty two (32) years’ service. Whilst the career preparation/interview skills/cv course was invaluable to those who attended, the psychological peer group support over the six weeks of the online course was even more important to this very vulnerable group of workers.

Adult Education Guidance is an integral part of the CDETBs Adult Education Service

The support given by the Union, ETB tutors, co-ordinators and each staff member ensured that, through this very worthwhile Skills for Work programme, we were able to respond in uncharted territory and circumstances and address a genuine need for workers at a very vulnerable and difficult time in their working career. Adult Education Guidance is an integral part of the CDETBs Adult Education Service and participants on this course were supported by our team of trained and qualified education guidance counsellors.

The flexibility of the Skills for Work initiative ensures that the most vulnerable within the workplace is not left behind, basic skills are required and Skills for Work has been at the forefront in responding to the demands and need from various sectors not just in these difficult times but for many years now.