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Donegal Education and Training Board [ETB]


Donegal ETB is the largest education and training provider in Donegal, providing a broad range of education and training services to around 25,000 students and learners on an annual basis. They are based throughout the county of Donegal with outreach centres in all the main towns in the county. They manage fifteen post primary schools, seventeen further education and training centres, and we support an extensive network of community education providers. Donegal ETC also operate an outdoor education centre, a music education partnership and youth services. Every year, around 11% of the total population of the county participate in full-time and part-time education and training programmes with Donegal ETB.

There is a staff of over 1,500 people, making Donegal ETB one of Donegal’s largest employers.


Donegal ETB is the largest education and training provider in Donegal, providing a broad range of education and training services to around 25,000 students and learners on an annual basis. They are the leading provider of Further Education and Training (FET) in the county, providing a wide range of full and part-time courses, adult learner guidance, apprenticeships, basic education, community education support, Youthreach (early school leavers) and services for employers.

As part of our research we interviewed Ciaran O’Brien, director of Donegal ETB and someone who has more than 25 years experience working in the Blue Economy/tourism sector in Ireland.

Mr. O’Brien expressed concerns about the skill set being low within the hospitality/tourism sector in our country.

He said: “I believe that the skill set is low at the minute, and this is largely due to the movement of staff  in recent times.

“The industry is finding it very difficult to retain the skilled staff and it is difficult for them to release other staff for training. Added to this, the pandemic had a profound effect on the tourism industry. “In hospitality as I mentioned the movement of staff has created massive issues. Essentially, they have lost much of their workforce. And any that they encouraged to come back haven’t really stayed as they have realised since covid that they are really lowly paid for long hours and hard work.

“There is also a huge demand for chefs in Ireland as a whole – it really is an employees market in this sector.”

Mr. O’Brien outlined how they have a range of different training courses for the hospitality/tourism sector.

Donegal ETB also play a part in co-ordinating the government’s ‘Skills to advance’ initiative which, provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees in jobs undergoing change and to those currently employed in vulnerable sectors.

Under this initiative, the ETB offer targeted support for more vulnerable groups in the workplace, particularly those with lower level skills who need more opportunities to advance in their working lives.

Supports are also available for SMEs who need some assistance to invest in and develop their workforce under the ‘skills for work’ initiative. This is another national programme, which is funded by the Government of Ireland, to deliver training courses for full or part-time employees.

Again, this is targeted a low skilled workers who may not have the same access to training courses.

Mr. O’Brien explained that the lower level courses such as barista training have been very popular amongst people working in the hospitality sector. Courses are often offered on a part-time/evening basis to work around the working schedule of many of these employees.


Donegal ETB have a clear and defined commitment to upskilling people in Donegal who work within Blue Economy sectors such as tourism and hospitality.

They offered targeted supports and courses to employers to help upskill and train their staff.

They collaborate with employers on the ground to provide the best training courses at the most suitable/convenient times. They offer certified qualification in hospitality, as well as front of house skills and catering support.

They also present opportunities for people to become more employable within the Blue Economy. Their latest course for Surf instructor/beach lifeguard course has proved to be very popular with people living in coastal communities. This is a fulltime course and gives the learner the chance to gain recognised certified qualifications.

Courses such as these are targeted to people living along the coast and show how through Donegal ETB’s collaboration with local stakeholders have delivered the correct training courses.

Donegal ETB undoubtably play an important role in the long-term development of Donegal. According to their mission strategy over the next five years the wellbeing of their staff and students will be paramount and together they will strive to provide the best possible conditions which will allow everyone to thrive and learn.

Donegal has a richly-deserved reputation for creativity and innovation. Donegal ETB will continue to embrace new ways of working and learning, including digital transformation, so that the county can advance to new levels of achievement in the future.

Added to this the organisation are committed to climate action and sustainability—they promise top lay their part in protecting the outstanding land and sea environment of Donegal.