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You're not limited to CAO and PLC – check out these alternative study routes


Jockey training courses are available

Jockey training courses are available

Jockey training courses are available

Much careers discussion during the Leaving Certificate year is centred on CAO and PLC opportunities, and indeed the majority of students follow these traditional study routes. There are, however, some very interesting options available to students in other areas.

This includes apprenticeships in the equine industry, paid degrees with work experience and apprenticeships in the hospitality industry. Many of these opportunities do not require Leaving Certificate points and accept students based on other criteria as well as offering viable career options.


RACE is the Racing Academy and Centre of Education. It offers courses in a variety of areas in relation to equine careers, which are internationally recognised. Courses include jockey training, yard managers, and trainers. RACE accepts school leavers but a Leaving Certificate is not necessarily a requirement.

RACE is located in Co Kildare and its trainee jockey programme, which was established in 1977, is free to all EU residents.

RACE will hold a number of open days over the coming weeks, including April 15, 22 and 29. For more information, see racingacademy.ie.


Teagasc offers a variety of courses in the area of horticulture and agri-food. It has campuses all over the country, including the Botanic Gardens, and works closely with a number of institutes of technology and universities.

Courses are available in areas such as farm administration, dairy herd management, crop and machinery management, horticulture, equine breeding, forestry and agri-business, to name a few.

Teagasc also provides distance learning courses and courses for adults returning to education as well as food industry training. Further information can be found by downloading the 2014 course prospectus from teagasc.ie. Educational incentive schemes are available for many courses as are means-tested grants.

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In general, applications are made directly to the colleges for most of the further education courses while higher education courses are accessed through the CAO. However, any interested candidate should read the prospectus carefully and check all requirements and procedures. Opportunities range from Level 5 to Level 8 and include progression to higher levels. Courses are made up of both theory and practice.

Many agricultural colleges are advertising their open days. See the list of events below.

Retail management degree with DBS and Lidl

An innovative Level 7 degree offers candidates the opportunity to split their time equally between academic learning with Dublin Business School (DBS) in Dublin city and working in Lidl stores in the Dublin area.

The programme is completed over a two-and-a-half-year period, so it is slightly shorter than a traditional Level 7. During this time, students receive a salary and their college fees are covered. Students will be required to have 250 points or a FETAC level 5. Interested candidates should complete the application form, which is available online at jobs.lidl.ie.

Interested applicants can also contact DBS for further information. DBS will hold its next Open Evening on Tuesday, May 13, from 5pm until 7pm. Applications are now open.



Maritime Advice Day: National Maritime College of Ireland (two days)

Return to learning Advice Day: University of Limerick

April 4

Open day: Kildalton Agricultural College

April 5

Open day: All Hallows

Open day: DIT College of the Built Environment

Open Day: NUI Galway

April 7

Enrolment/interviews: St John’s Central College, Cork

April 8

Open Evening: Pulse College, Ringsend, Dublin

CAO Applications Evening: Waterford IT

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