Thursday 22 March 2018

College is not for everyone

John Walshe

Not every Leaving Cert student wants to go to college. Around 55,000 sat the exam in June but 11,000 of them did not bother filling in CAO application forms.

Until relatively recently, there were plenty of opportunities for them in employment or apprenticeships, but not any more. Young males in particular are affected by the downturn and are bearing the brunt of unemployment.

Eilis Coakley, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors agrees that it's certainly tougher for those not planning to go to college next month.

That's not to say there is nothing for them but they will have to try that bit harder to carve out a career for themselves. Some will still go directly into jobs. The advice to them is to seek opportunities to better themselves through training or further education opportunities, if not immediately, then down the line a little.

Unfortunately, in some cases the jobs may be short lived but if people end up on the Live Register for three months they will be able to avail of places on an extraordinary range of programmes under the general heading Labour Market Activation Measures. In all 11,000 places have been created in the past three months, with more to come.

They are being funded by the Department of Education and Skills and range from courses in eco-tourism to cv and job interview preparation to upskilling in de-boning and trimming techniques for the meat processing sector. Some programmes are provided in institutes of technology but many are run by private providers or not for profit organisations such as Rehab. The list is available on and is worth checking out, especially if they rescue young people from drifting into long term unemployment.

And what about apprenticeships? At the height of the boom around half of those going into apprenticeships had their Leaving Cert. Hard to credit now that there were just under 30,000 apprentices in training a few years back with over 6,000 securing apprenticeship annually. So far this year only 584 young people have got apprenticeships.

The bust has decimated entry into the construction trades, and taken a heavy toll on other trades as well. But we still need crafts people and will need more when the recession ends, so it's worthwhile talking to employers who might be willing to take a chance and take on an apprentice. Despite the devastation in construction, employers in the sector have taken on 130 apprentices so far this year.

The tourism sector has also been hit this year, not least by the almost forgotten ash cloud which resulted in many holiday cancellations. But that does not mean the end of recruitment into training. Failte Ireland has a target this year of taking in 1,174 full time and 685 part time students and trainees. Last year it supported 1,151 full time and 862 part timers.

The full time courses are accessed through the CAO while applications for the part time industry based courses is directly through the institutes of technology. The part time courses including the National Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery; the Total Immersion Chefs Programme; the Restaurant Operations Management Programme (new Programme starting in September); the Trainee Manager Development Programme and the Advanced Supervisory Programmes.

There are other options such as the Post Leaving Cert courses which are dealt with elsewhere in this supplement. BIM, Teagasc and FAS, all offer FETAC certified courses and their websites are worth checking out.

Craft related careers also offer a real opportunity for many school leavers. Options include jewellery, woodturning, glass making, textile design, and pottery. Outside the third level colleges there are three other main providers of craft education -- FAS, City and Guilds and the Crafts Council of Ireland.

"These three organisations provide a broad range of crafts related courses that typically are skills and practice based and have played an important role in preserving the skills involved in many craft disciplines." said Council chief executive Una Parsons. "Many of the courses available through these providers are based on the apprenticeship model of training and produce trained people that are highly employable"

There is life after the Leaving and it's not all about going to college.

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