Further Education & Training: The Future Is What You Make It
Moving on after the Leaving Certificate is – understandably! – a daunting prospect for many. But that’s no reason to feel like your options are limited. In fact, Ireland is home to a broad range of Further Education and Training (FET) Level 5 & 6 courses, covering a wide variety of subjects, and a further 66 Apprenticeship programmes – all of which can lead to successful careers across countless industries.
In secondary school, it’s easy to feel like the Leaving Certificate-to-Higher Education pathway is the only way of achieving the career of your dreams. However, many talented, intelligent young people want a direct entry to the workplace – while others don’t feel they’re ready to make the leap straight from school to a colossal lecture hall. Leaving Certificate Results Day can also be a source of anxiety for lots of school leavers. But that doesn’t mean their learning opportunities have to end after secondary school, or that they have to follow a career direction which doesn’t feel right for them. There are countless routes to a fulfilling, exciting and worthwhile career – which may even bring you in brilliant new directions you never expected, and lead you to uncovering your full potential.
Variety is paramount when it comes to FET – with a huge range of education options open to anyone over the age of 16, and available in every community in Ireland, across a multitude of subjects.
There are numerous benefits to embarking on FET Level 5 & 6 courses (also known as Post Leaving Certificate or PLC courses). The courses are a fantastic stepping-stone into Higher Education – with more and more students entering institutes of technology and technological universities straight from FET.
FET Level 5 & 6 courses, which typically span one to two years in duration, are also a handy way for students to try out a subject they’re interested in, before committing to a four-year degree. For a lot of people, FET also serves as a great direct entry into seriously in-demand jobs. There’s even more practical benefits too, including smaller class sizes.
As we all know, the structure of a bachelor’s degree programme doesn’t suit everyone. That’s why the flexible, vocational learning – including training in practical skills and work experience – offered on FET Level 5 & 6 courses can be an exciting preferred option for many.
Readers of Hot Press will also be happy to hear that there’s plenty of FET Level 5 & 6 courses in the areas of music and media on offer right across the country. No matter what aspect of those industries you’re interested in, there’s a course out there for you: including Sound Engineering, Music Performance, Music Technology, Musical Instrument Making, Media Production and more.
Radio and TV presenter Trishauna Archer is one of countless people working in Irish media today who has benefited from FET. A graduate of Ballyfermot College of Further Education, she returned to the college a few months back to speak to the Radio Programming, Podcast and Production students there, and share her experiences. During her time as a student, Trishauna seized all the opportunities presented to her at BCFE – and since graduation, has become one of the most promising stars in Irish broadcasting. Other former FET learners in the public eye include the best-selling Irish duo behind the Aisling series, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen; Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington; trailblazing Senator Eileen Flynn; and RTÉ News presenter and reporter Sharon Tobin.
Of course, those are just some of the industries that FET prepares students for. There’s also FET Level 5 & 6 courses available in areas such as education, business, health, art, hospitality, sports, software development, IT, marketing and more. If it’s the practical aspect of education and training that has piqued your interest, then you might just be the perfect candidate for an Apprenticeship, which also forms part of FET.
Opportunities in this area are fast expanding across diverse industries, with young women in particular being encouraged to take up Apprenticeship programmes – which provide hands-on, on-the-job training, and the ability to earn while you learn. People from all walks of life have embarked on the programmes – in areas as diverse as BioPharma, Sales, Engineering, Finance, Property Services, Hairdressing, Insurance and Healthcare. There’s also a multitude of highly valued craft Apprenticeships, with programmes in Electrical, Plumbing, Plastering, Carpentry, Brick and Stonelaying, and more.
There were over 8,600 Apprenticeships registrations in 2021, which is the highest since 2007. The 66 programmes available in 2022 is a considerable rise from the 25 offered in 2014 – with 25 craft programmes and 41 programmes across a broad spectrum of industry sectors now available.
To become an Apprentice, you need to be hired by an employer for the duration of your programme. The formally approved employers range from micro-businesses to large multinationals, to everything in between. Applications for Apprenticeships are open year-round, with the programmes lasting between two and four years in length – allowing participants to gain National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) Awards from Levels 5 to 10 (with Level 10 being PhD level), depending on their Apprenticeship.
Clearly, FET courses and Apprenticeships offer a wide variety of pathways, with options suiting all interests and skill sets. The road from secondary school to a career is not always straightforward – but with a diverse range of FET Level 5 & 6 courses and Apprenticeships available across the country, there’s no reason why you should settle for a course you’re not passionate about.
There’s never been a better time to broaden your horizons – and start exploring the wealth of options available to you through FET.
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