While the restructuring of the VECs into 16 ETBs has been government policy for some time and was implemented on 1 July 2013, the programme of assistance agreed with the EU/ECB/IMF Troika in November 2011 also committed Ireland to a structural reform agenda (to maximise the potential for economic growth), a fiscal consolidation strategy (to return government debt to below 3% by 2015) and a reorganisation/recapitalisation of the banking sector. The structural reform agenda includes the establishment of a Further Education and Training Sector as well as a Labour Market Activation strategy. The structural reform programme provides for the dissolution of FÁS and the establishment of a new Further Education and Training Authority (SOLAS), the establishment of 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), the establishment of the National Employment and Entitlements Service (Intreo), the establishment of Qualifications and Quality Assurance Ireland (QQI), and the launch of the Pathways to Work Initiative.
The Education and Training Boards Act 2013 was implemented on 1 July 2013. This abolished VECs and established 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs).
As the separate Further Education and Training Bill is enacted, phasing arrangements will emerge around the incorporation of the existing Training Division of FÁS into the ETB network.