THOUSANDS OPT FOR FURTHER EDUCATION PROGRAMMES, APPRENTICESHIPS, TRAINEESHIPS
Practical, hands-on courses offer career progression and skills enhancement outside traditional CAO system.
The Irish Times, updated Thu, Aug 23, 2018.
With some editing, additions, and rearrangement by me, ICOB.
The organisations mentioned below are particular to Ireland, but the approach to widening one's approach to further education opportunities is universal.
Please see below
Five Questions to Ask About Further Education
To help you clarify your decision-making.
In many of our fellow continental EU partner countries, such practical hands-on courses are seen to
be as of equal status as those offered by third-level colleges.
Every year, tens of thousands of places on Level 8 and Level 6/7 degree and higher cert programmes are offered by the CAO to applicants who have until 5.15 pm the following day to accept.
What many people
fail to realise is that thousands of other young (and not-so-young) people do not seek a CAO place, but instead opt to secure places on further education (FE) programmes, apprenticeships, traineeships, or in employment.
With the national and local media focus firmly fixed on those who secured eight or nine A1s, those who opt for alternate progression routes may be perceived as having secured a less prestigious place.
be further from the truth. Many courses provided through alternates to the CAO offer successful applicants career progression opportunities perfectly in tune with their specific interests, aptitudes and abilities.
Looked at from the perspective of any aspiring
student, for a programme of study to be successful it must be a good fit for their particular strengths and aptitudes. For those who seek courses through the CAO, this will involve several years sitting in lecture theatres, attending tutorials, writing essays, studying for long hours in college libraries, and taking written exams at regular intervals.
For others, CAO-type
courses offered in our universities and institutes of technologies are completely unsuitable learning environments. Such individuals may enhance their skills most effectively through a combination of observation and hands-on practice – often combined with on-going practical evaluations to assess the levels of competency being achieved.
In many of our fellow continental
EU partner countries, such practical hands-on courses are seen to be as of equal status as those offered by third-level colleges. Parental pressures can drive thousands of young people
down the academic route where they often flounder and eventually drop out at huge expense to their sense of self-esteem, their parents’ bank balance, and the tax-paying public.
Thankfully, attitudes are beginning to change, and the wonderful opportunities on offer through FE, apprenticeships, traineeships, and employment are gaining more and more recognition from society at large.
Thanks to rapidly changing perceptions both within Government and among employers, the range of apprenticeship opportunities
has really diversified in recent years. Solas is the national body responsible for co-ordinating the development
of a wide range of new apprenticeship programmes in a wide range of areas within our economy.
Thirty-six apprenticeship programmes are currently available spanning the engineering, construction,
motor, electrical, finance, hospitality, and ICT industry sectors. In 2017, more than 4,700 applicants registered to start and 12,000 apprentices were completing their training.
The new apprenticeship programmes developed in the past year or so includes
Insurance Practice offered online through IT Sligo, where students work four days per week within a firm, for which they are paid. They receive a level 8 degree following the completion of their programme.
Another recently introduced programme is Accounting Technician. Launched in September 2017, the apprenticeship is a new pathway to a career in business, accountancy and finance, where
apprentices are mentored through a two-year, work-based learning programme. Accounting Technician apprentices work four days a week with a registered employer and study one day a week with a local college, on a two-year contract. Apprentices are
paid a salary of at least €18,000 per annum and their college tuition is fully funded by Solas. The programme leads to a Level 6 QQI Advanced Certificate in Accounting.
Last year there were approximately 160 apprenticeships available in industry, practice
and the public sector. Opportunities are available in FE colleges in the greater Dublin Area, Cork,
Monaghan, Waterford, and Wicklow.
There are up to 30,000 places available in further education colleges throughout the Country. They are validated by
QQI at both level 5 and 6. Many students take PLC programmes with a view to applying to a CAO course which reserves a specific number of places for FE students. Others are looking to develop a set of skills in a vocational sphere so that they can
proceed directly to employment following graduation. Mature adults who may have been out of the labour market for many years, due to a variety of reasons including rearing a family, take PLC programmes to bring their skills up to date.
Each college has its own unique
set of offerings tailored to the needs of their own community. For example, Stillorgan College of Further Education
in Dublin offers courses that address the needs of all of the individuals outlined above as well as meeting the current needs of industry. One of its new courses is a Level 5 course in Illustration
and Design. This course introduces students to the wide-ranging discipline of illustration and
helps them gain an improved understanding of the possibilities of image-making.
Another is a course in Regional Tour Guiding, developed in collaboration with Fáilte Ireland to enable learners to acquire the relevant knowledge, skills and competencies to work effectively as a tourist
guide in the greater Dublin region and surrounding area. It also provides learners with the necessary business skills needed to start their
own tour guiding business.
Animation prepares students with little or no experience for a third-level course in animation production. With a dual focus on drawing and computer skills, the course covers all the fundamental areas required for a successful portfolio submission. The Art course provides tuition in areas such as drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and combined materials.
The College also offers Level 5 and Level 6 course in Multimedia and Web Development. Also on offer is a Travel and Tourism with Airline Studies course which prepares students for work in all areas of the travel industry. Courses in Media
Production, Journalism and Level 5 and 6 courses in Computer Skills for Business round off the offering of courses in the college.
Enquiries to stillorgancollege.ie. To discover what your own local FE college is offering
for the coming academic year, go to qualifax.ie and search
courses under the PLC tag identifying your county or specific college and you will find a comprehensive list of all their offerings.
Traineeship is a programme of structured
training which combines learning in an education and training setting and in the workplace aiming to improve recruitment and employment outcomes for participants and increase retention and productivity within industry.
Traineeship gives participants the opportunity to develop cutting edge skills and knowledge on the job, making them more skilled, more employable and enhancing their career options,
and enables employers to access a pipeline of talent and learners. Traineeships lead to an award at NFQ Levels 4-6, or equivalent and are between 6-20 months in duration.
They are open to all potential participants, of all ages and backgrounds, and are free-of-charge. Trainees may include school leavers, older learners, those in employment and those who are unemployed.
Currently, there are more than 30 traineeship programmes available around the Country. This number will increase with the development of
more traineeships across a range of industries and sectors.
Existing traineeships include Engineering; Software Developer; Animation Studio Assistant; Health Care Assistant; Food and Beverage Service; Business Administration; Medical Administration; Legal Administration; Sports, Recreation and Exercise; Beauty Therapist,and Accounts Executive.
More information can be found at traineeship.ie.
With unemployment now down to 5.5 per cent, the labour market is tightening and the opportunities for young people to access full employment opportunities across the economy has never been stronger.
In many sectors of the economy – banking, insurance, the food industry, hospitality – employers see the benefit of recruiting motivated school leavers whom they can integrate into their overall human
resource strategy. Many of these young people progress through education and training as part of their employment contract and progress in time to Masters and PhD level.
If you are interested in seeking employment directly after the Leaving Cert or following a
one-year PLC programme, the quality of your CV, tailored for each individual employer, is crucial.
Young people and their parents suffer through years of anxiety, seeing the CAO and the points
race as a huge barrier to career progression in many areas of occupational aspirations. As a society, we need to broaden our horizons as to the wide range of options open to potential
learners, which will meet the needs of all types of learning styles.
There are dynamic challenging career progression opportunities available to suit every aspiring employee, when you consider all the opportunities outlined above.
Five Questions to Ask About Further Education
There are hundreds of options
to choose from but a little research will go a long way.
The Irish Times, Updated Thu, Aug 23, 2018, 08:15
With some editing, additions, and rearrangement by me, ICOB.
Not everyone is going to the college course of their choice. For some, they missed out on the points they need, while others always had a further education or apprenticeship course in mind. But where do they go from here?
1. Where can I find information on further education?
Until a few years back, there was no centralised place where students could find
course details and it could be confusing to sift through the pile of options in the adult and further education institutions. That changed with the introduction of FetchCourses.ie in 2016, which boasts well over 4,000 further education and training courses and was developed
by further education and training agency Solas in conjunction with Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI).
The site is very user-friendly and gives information based on course type and location, as well as information about grants, allowances and other sources of support.
Students interested in apprenticeships, meanwhile, can check out Apprenticeship.ie, which contains a breakdown of entry requirements, any college
fees and the salary that the apprentice can expect to make as they learn.
Fergal Scully, guidance counsellor at Rathmines College of Further Education, Dublin, says these websites are a good starting point
for students but that, once they have seen them, they should go to directly to the websites of the colleges of further education (CFEs).
2. How do I know if a further education course is the right choice for me?
First up, look at the post-Leaving Certificate courses on offer in your local college of further education – you’ll find a full list at ETBI.ie. These are usually full-time courses, one year long and leading to a QQI Level 5 certificate, or a second year leading to a QQI Level
6 award. They include as diverse a range of options as you’d find in higher education, including animal care, arts and humanities, business, computers, construction, crafts and
trades, healthcare, journalism and PR, science and more.
“Do any of the courses seem like something you’d be interested in doing for a year?” Scully asks. “Go up to the CFE and see what
is available with your results. Talk to someone there – they are very open to answering your questions.”
3. But I wanted to go to college, not further education. Should I still consider these courses?
“There is usually a
link between most further education courses and higher education in a college or university” says Scully. “For instance, if someone had Arts on their CAO form but missed out, they could study Liberal Arts here in Rathmines, or a similar course
in Liberties College, Dublin.
"They’ll do a similar range of subjects to those offered at a university. Then, if they want to move on to higher education after a year, they need to meet the minimum entry
requirements before they will be considered for entry. This varies from institution to institution: UCD (University College Dublin), for instance, requires applicants coming from further education to have achieved five distinctions in nine of the subjects
they have taken.”
"Students who successfully
complete a year or two of a further education course may be eligible for advanced entry into a college course; it is possible, for instance, to start studying journalism in Rathmines and then move to a level 8 degree in a linked college.
"But, Scully warns, moving from further to higher education is not a guarantee and different third-levels will
have different rules and pathways. “Bear in mind that, for instance, the majority of students on further education pre-nursing courses won’t be admitted into higher education. If you’re thinking of taking this step, for whatever
course, it’s really important to look up the progression routes.
"You’ll find them on the student resources section of QQI.ie or you can ask the college of further education
to which you’re applying.”
4. If I’m not going to use the further education course as a college launchpad, what’s the point?
“Many students will go on to employment, not further study,” says Scully. “Further education courses provide useful qualifications in their own right by equipping graduates with the workplace skills they need
and many CFEs, including ours, offer workplace experience. Students leave our courses with communications and computer skills and are more employable than someone with just a Leaving Cert. They’re going into all sorts of different industries: businesses are looking for administration
staff from some of our courses, while some of our computer graduates are moving into network administrator jobs.”
"It’s worth adding that students who move straight from a further education course to the workplace don’t have the college door closed
to them: after a few years in the workplace, they may decide to return to further education, start a third-level course (perhaps as a mature student) or do a goal-oriented training course. And the fees, usually below €500, are significantly less
than the €3,000 you’ll pay at third-level."
5. Is an apprenticeship for me?
have tended to be synonymous with carpentry, plumbing and motor mechanics, but these courses have changed radically in recent years and now include options such as accounting, insurance, and commis chef. They’re built around a block of on-the-job learning and college courses, providing students with the best of both worlds. Best of all, perhaps,
is that these courses are paid, making them a highly attractive option to people who want a tangible degree qualification but can’t quite
afford the full costs of college."
Best of Luck!
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
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