Cork Access Network

This initiative was established to co-ordinate efforts to tackle Educational Disadvantage in Cork City as an outcome of the  Leave No-One Behind  webinar held on December 15th 2020. 

Cork Access Network is working to enable and enhance access to learning opportunities in Cork city. We are opening up the discussion about access in Cork, to name the issues and begin working on solutions at a local level.  

The group involves representatives of Cork City Council,as a partner in Cork Learning City with Cork Educational and Training Board, University College Cork, Munster Technological University, Cork Chamber, Janssen and One Cork.

We intend to involve a range of individuals and organisations chaired by the former president of CIT Dr. Barry O'Connor . We are working at every level across the city, with the goal of creating a positive change to engagement with Access in Cork for the benefit of all learners. 

Recent Events


Cork Learning City partners host Access Network (CAN) Workshop with Guest speakers from the USA

The Lord Mayor hosted Cork Learning City partners in the Cork Access Network (CAN) with visiting academics from the USA following a workshop on ‘UNJUST DESIGN IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM?’ in Council Chamber, Cork City Hall on 23rd June.

The Workshop featured presentations by a strong range of Cork examples of tackling educational disadvantage in the Irish context including projects that focus on:

  • Prisoners and families undertaken by Cork Prison Education Unit and Dillons Cross Project CETB
  • Travellers – Lead by Leanne McDonagh and Breda Hogan (MTU, UCC)
  • The Prevention of Early School Leaving through the TUSLA School Completion Programme – Ingrid O’Riordan (Le Chéile SCP)
  • An Alternative for Early School Leavers through the Youthreach Programme – Des Cullinane (Cork City Learning Support Service)
  • New Further Education and Higher Education Links Schemes – Gobnait Burke & Kathy Bradley (CETB)

The audience were addressed by Guest Speakers Dr Drew Koch CEO and Dr Sara Stein Koch of the Gardner Institute for Student Success in the USA, who outlined their work to support the success of under-represented groups in Higher Education.

Cork Access Network Workplace Learning Breakfast

Cork Access Network hosted a Workplace Learning Breakfast Seminar in Munster Technological University on May 12th. 


generously sponsored by Cork Chamber Skillnet, this event served as a platform to showcase a range of effective and inspiring approaches to accessibility that have been developed locally. Through collaborative efforts between Cork- based companies and education partners, significant strides have been made in eliminating barriers to education and employment.

They event covered various topics, including practical examples of workplace learning initiatives like bridge-to-employment programs, leadership programs, disability and inclusion initiatives, as well as providing attendees with information on workplace support schemes. CAN firmly believes in ensuring that no one is left behind, as encapsulated in their motto "Id féidir leat" - Yes, You Can.

Each example presented during the event demonstrated what can be accomplished through collaboration and concerted efforts to overcome access challenges.

Speakers included;

  • Cork Chamber Skillnet - Garrett O’Rourke  
  • J&J Bridge to Employment – Andrew Flynn, GM Janssen Pharmaceutical and Bursary student, Kyle Daly.
  • Skills to Advance: Aspire Leadership Programme Cork ETB in partnership with the Trigon hotel group.
  • Cork College of FET representative: Niamh Gaine, Assistant Manager     
  • Trigon Hotel Representative: Deirdre Staples L & D Specialist & Learner Representative
  • Career Development – Disability & Inclusion Initiatives – MTU Careers Service & MTU Disability Support Service (DSS) and Access UCC, Disability Support. 
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Employer Relations, IntreoDermot Crosby, & Company example. 


Community Education - Gateway or Goal


Community education provides flexible learning options in your community, allowing learners to identify and reach recreational, social, cultural, creative and wellbeing goals.

It can be a gateway of progression to Further and Third Level education, and to employment.

This seminar explores this transformational learning experience for individuals and groups.

This is an excellent networking opportunity and will explore how:

  • Community Education can provide access routes for a wide range of learners, across a broad range of settings, towards an extensive range of destinations.
  • To hear about and discuss Education Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) position paper on the role, value, delivery and future of ETB FET Community Education

The event will also provide an opportunity to:

  • hear inspiring learner stories;
  • explore a range of Good practice examples from Community Education Providers across City and County;
  • be briefed and informed of policies on Community Education’
  • engage with decision makers, local and national.  

ACCESS through the Workplace, Networking & Breakfast Event

This event showcased a series of effective and inspirational access approaches developed locally, in which Cork based companies, trade unions and education partners through working together have successfully reduced and removed barriers to education and employment.

‘CAN believes in leaving no-one behind and as our motto says ‘Is féidir leat’ - Yes you can’. We heard from organisations including Cork Chamber, the COPE Foundation, Johnson and Johnson, the Fórsa Trade Union, Boston Scientific, DELL, and Apple on their partnerships with MTU, UCC, Cork ETB and Cork City Council.  Each example was a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved though collaborations and by working together to reduce access challenges. 

President Maggie Cusack of MTU, opening the event said “We were delighted to bring so many employers and educationalists together to highlight some innovative exemplars of practice in relation to Access to and within the workplace.  We are all committed to working together on this initiative.”


Leave No One Behind 2022 Webinar

This virtual CAN event, featured a number of high-profile speakers from education, industry and community, including Mr Jim Breslin, Secretary General of the Dept. of Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science and Mr Bob Savage, VP DELL Technologies, discussing the challenges and opportunities to enhance access and reduce barriers to educational success for all learners with local leaders including: Ann Doherty Cork City Council. Denis Leamy Cork ETB, Prof John O’Halloran UCC, Prof. Maggie Cusack MTU, Paula Cogan Cork Chamber, and Siobhan O’Dowd, Ballyphehane Togher CDP and CESCA. The Session was chaired by Dr Barry O'Connor , Chair of Cork Access Network.

This event recognised the success of Cork as a learning city sustained by active cross-sectoral/whole-of-City partnerships, will acknowledge the challenges, including the impact of COVID 19, and furthered the conversation and commitment to action to reduce educational disadvantage in the Cork region.

‘A Strengths Based Approach to tackling Educational Disadvantage’

Asset Based Community Development builds on the assets that are found in the community and mobilises individuals, associations, and institutions to come together to realize and develop their strengths and a Focus Group on Access Through The Workplaceon 24th June 2021 . 


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