Wednesday 16 October 2019

Going to College: The CAO is not the only show in town and other routes offer exciting career options

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

Although the recent focus on the CAO is understandable given the February 1 deadline, young people who wish to pursue other career paths may be feeling a bit left out. Apprenticeships and Post-Leaving Cert (PLC) courses offer exciting alternatives to the CAO.

Most PLC colleges are now holding interviews, so it’s time to submit an application if students have not already done so. Soon, many companies will begin their hiring process for apprenticeships. Potential employers may include the ESB, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann. The lack of a central application system when applying for apprenticeships can make the process daunting, but here are three schemes that offer a clear path to apprentice training and a structured application process.


This year, the ESB will recruit up to 70 apprentices. Successful applicants will receive four years’ training to qualify as an electrician. This scheme opens for application on February 18. Candidates must be aged 16 before June 1 and hold a Junior or Leaving Cert with ‘passes’ in maths, science and English, and two other subjects. See

TU Dublin — Blanchardstown

The apprenticeship scheme previously offered by Blanchardstown IT (now part of TU Dublin) is an excellent option for school-leavers wishing to pursue earn-and-learn training. There are currently two areas of study available: a BSc in Process Instrumentation and Automation (Level 7) and a Higher Certificate in Science in Computing  in Networking Technologies (Level 6). One particularly helpful aspect is that the college operates a list of employers who are interested in hiring apprentices. Successful applicants will be linked with reputable employers who will support them in their training and may even hire them on completion. There is no need to apply until after Leaving Cert results are issued. Applicants need to submit a CV and cover letter to the college, and should begin working on these now. Applicants should complete a number of drafts and seek advice from parents and teachers on its contents.

TU Dublin — City Centre

The TU Dublin Access to Apprenticeship programme (previously run by DIT) recognises that some young people may need to develop skills in order to gain access to and reach their full potential in apprenticeship training. The scheme, supported by J.P. Morgan and the ESB, is open to 16 to 24-year-olds living in Dublin who may experience some economic or social barriers to accessing training. During the 12-week course, which starts in April, students will sample a range of trades, receive help with CVs, develop interview skills, earn a safe pass certificate and undertake two weeks’ work experience. Applications close on March 8.

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

Irish Independent

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