Monday 25 June 2018

'Earn and learn' options for school-leavers

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Thankfully, for the first time in many years, we are seeing a significant change in the post-Leaving Cert educational landscape, that will be of interest to those who prefer an 'earn and learn' approach to developing a career. As well as the increase in opportunities in traditional apprenticeships, such as mechanic and electricians, a number of sectors are ready to introduce new-style apprenticeships.

Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI)

This year, ATI hopes to recruit 70 apprentices across 60 companies, offering school-leavers the opportunity to be employed for two years while training for an internationally recognised diploma, studying areas such as book-keeping, business ethics and tax payroll.

The programme involves four days a week in a working environment and one day a week in class at a partner college: Rathmines College, Bray College of FE, Cork College of Commerce, Monaghan Institute or Blackrock College of FE. Interested applicants should contact Aoife Kennedy at

GSK Engineering Apprentices

GSK is an international pharmaceutical and health care company with four locations in Ireland. It is seeking applications from school-leavers and graduates who are interested in apprenticeships in engineering in Cork, Dungarvan and Sligo. In addition, GSK is recruiting apprentices in business and supply chain management for Dungarvan. Apprenticeships will begin in September and interested applicants should apply early at as the competition may close at any stage.

Financial Services

The financial service sector is recruiting apprentices in three areas. The international financial services specialist and international financial services advanced specialist positions are designed for those with previous experience however applications are also being sought for international financial services associate professionals, which are aimed at school leavers. Over two years, apprentices will spend 60pc of their time in their companies of employment and the remaining time studying. The National College of Ireland will be delivering training.

Defence Forces

Not apprenticeships, but the Defence Forces are recruiting for general service ranks in the army and naval service and particular support is available for female applicants. Extra Guidance and support will be available for all applicants to assist them in preparing for the fitness test in particular. Applicants should be aged between 18 and 27 before the deadline for applications, Sunday May 22.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Question: I would prefer to do a Level 8 course if possible. I haven't included any level 6 or 7 courses on my CAO.  Is it too late to do so now?

Answer: You can add courses to your CAO during the Change of Mind period, from May 5 until July 1. It is a good idea to start researching options for levels 6 and 7 now. These courses are mainly available in institutes of technology and private colleges. They tend to have lower points than Level 8 courses and are normally two and three years in duration.

Begin by looking for courses similar to those you have applied for at Level 8 - some may be almost identical, for example business, while others may be in more specific sub areas of your career preference. Spend time seeing if there are courses available in areas not available at Level 8, and which you have not yet have considered, for example dental hygienist at TCD or ophthalmic dispensing in DIT.

Finally, check if each course has an add-on year(s) to allow you to achieve a Level 8 degree. Most do, and this information is listed in the qualification column of the CAO handbook beside each course title.

Important dates


Open Day/Interview Day — Killester College of Further Education


Open Evening — Grange Community College, Dublin 13

BComm Convention — University College Cork


Taster Session — Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Closing Date for Second Round Interviews — Ormonde College of Further Education, Kilkenny


Open Day/CAO Options Info Morning  -Galway-Mayo IT — Galway

Information Day — Institute of Technology Sligo

Taster Day (Mary Immaculate College) — St Patrick’s Campus Thurles

Open Day — Maynooth University


Open Day — Beauty Academy Ltd, Drogheda


APC Budding Biologists —  University College Cork

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