Saturday 22 July 2017

College is not for everyone

One-in-five of the 55,546 leaving cert candidates did not apply to the CAO for a place on a third level course this year reports Katherine Donnelly

Thousands of Leaving Cert students receiving their results today have not applied to go to third-level through the CAO. The figure is almost 11,000, or one in five of the 55,546 candidates who sat the exam last June, which is a very considerable number.

Some had their alternatives worked out well in advance, such as a traineeship, and know exactly what they are doing, others are only facing up to the options now.

Before the current recession there were plenty of employment opportunities and apprenticeships for school-leavers who wanted to get straight into the workforce.

That is no longer the case and many who happily walked into a job from school a few years ago are now back in education, upskilling and equipping themselves for what opportunities there are, or are likely to be in the future.

So, if the idea of further study doesn’t appeal at the moment the advice is not to turn your back on it forever, and to seek opportunities for training and further education down the line.

While the collapse of the building industry has decimated entry to traditional trades such as construction, it doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities in the craft area.

Outside the third-level colleges, the main providers of craft education are the State training agency, FAS, City and Guilds and Crafts Council of Ireland with choices as diverse as farriery, jewellery making and thatching.

They have well established links with employers and a phone call or a visit to their websites would be worthwhile to see what is on offer.

The McDonald’s fast food chain currently have about 180 staff who have taken part in a City and Guilds accreditation programme, which gives an idea of the growing need for accredited training in all jobs .

The Craft Council of Ireland promotes a range of craft and arts-related courses offered by providers such as VECs, FAS and its own twoyear Jewellery and Goldsmithing Course and Ceramics Skills and Design Course, both of which have a 90pc employment rate.

Tourism is seen as an area of potential growth which makes the Failte Ireland “earn and learn” traineeships in areas such as cookery and restaurant operations, combining paid work with training, well worth a look.

The cookery traineeship is available in seven colleges. Other agencies such as Teagasc and BIM all offer courses certified by the Further Education Training and Awards Council (FETAC), which don’t involve CAO points.

Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses are probably best known in the further education sector, and for good reason because the choice is huge and they are available countrywide.

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