‘Early on, I knew that college was not for me’: The different routes to your career

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Increasingly, determination are much options for students extracurricular the CAO. This year, for the archetypal time, students tin enrol successful 1 of 23 grade courses successful a further acquisition institution, earlier either exiting their people with a qualification oregon transferring to a higher acquisition instauration wherever they tin implicit their grade (see nto.hea.ie for much information).

“The quality of further acquisition and training, it gives you a accidental to effort thing you mightiness beryllium funny in, without having to perpetrate to a four-year degree,” says Andrew Brownlee, CEO of Solas, the further acquisition and grooming agency.

“The courses thin to beryllium method oregon vocational successful nature, and linked to careers successful rapidly increasing areas similar construction, hospitality, technology, the greenish system and precocious manufacturing, to sanction but a few.

“The courses volition either instrumentality you to absorbing oregon breathtaking careers, oregon springiness you an accidental to advancement to higher education.

“They are cleanable for radical who are unsure of their semipermanent vocation plan, oregon don’t consciousness acceptable for 3rd level, oregon so conscionable privation a smaller adjacent radical wherever they tin larn practical, career-focused skills.

“Further acquisition [courses] tin pb connected to 3rd level, but it is besides truthful overmuch much than a second-chance enactment for radical who don’t bash large astatine school. We cognize that they tin connection thing unsocial by focusing connected applicable and method skills that pb to careers that tin marque you bully money.

“They instrumentality spot successful section communities astir Ireland, cutting retired the request to wage for surviving distant from location and each the costs that travel with that. And FET is escaped astatine the constituent of entry, truthful you won’t beryllium deed with assemblage fees,” says Brownlee.

But what is it really similar to bash 1 of these courses – and wherever mightiness they instrumentality you? We met immoderate radical who person undertaken PLC courses, apprenticeships and traineeships.

The apprentice: Mairíde Bennis, manufacturing technologist astatine Design Pro Automation, Limerick

“In the past fewer years, opportunities for apprenticeships person grown beyond the acquainted areas similar plumbing, electrics and mechanics and this is opening much doors for females.

“I’m decidedly successful a male-dominated career, but I get connected highly good with the lads astatine work.

“I person been progressive successful the Facts, Faces, Futures campaign, tally by Solas to showcase and observe pistillate apprentices, and the opportunities that apprenticeship careers supply for women and girls successful Ireland. I privation that had been determination erstwhile I was successful school, erstwhile assemblage and the CAO were inactive highlighted arsenic the fig 1 vocation path.

“Doing an apprenticeship requires uncovering an employer, and that tin beryllium the biggest challenge; it’s highly hard to find an leader that you like, particularly due to the fact that you don’t cognize precisely what you want. I didn’t adjacent cognize what apprenticeship I wanted; I loved engineering successful schoolhouse truthful I had thought toolmaking would beryllium for maine but, looking back, I would person hated that.

“But, erstwhile you find an employer, it’s beauteous casual to get started successful your course. I didn’t similar the assemblage broadside of it due to the fact that I ne'er liked school, and I didn’t privation to spell to college. But determination is going to beryllium mentation for immoderate occupation you do, truthful I conscionable had to get connected with it. And I liked that what I did larn successful college, and the mentation astir this really related to my job.

“I besides liked that I was paid by my leader and that I didn’t person to instrumentality a indebtedness oregon inquire my parents for support. As you gain portion you larn connected an apprenticeship, I was supporting myself, for the astir part, portion others had to wage fees and the costs of college.

“I learned a batch from my apprenticeship, including what it is similar to enactment successful antithetic companies and the antithetic perspectives that radical person successful the workplace. I got exposed to antithetic elements of the accumulation process, and it truly solidified successful my caput that engineering is for me. I learned that it matters erstwhile you emotion your job, due to the fact that I cognize determination are plentifulness of radical who don’t.

“Apprenticeship has opened truthful galore doors for me. I tin emigrate to different state due to the fact that my skills volition beryllium successful demand. And I cognize that I tin determination jobs due to the fact that of the applicable acquisition I person built up.

“I was a finalist successful the 2022 Generation Apprenticeship Apprentice of the Year Awards and won an award. My aged schoolhouse asked maine backmost to speech astir apprenticeships, and I person realised it is thing I americium passionate about. I privation idiosyncratic had travel and spoken to america erstwhile we were successful school.

“I bash get asked: bash you consciousness that you missed retired connected the assemblage experience? The answer: perfectly not. As portion of my training, I spent clip successful a technological university, truthful I had the pupil experience, without the costs and the debt. It wasn’t ever easy, but my apprenticeship has led maine to a vocation that I perfectly love.

“Doing an apprenticeship is simply a no-brainer. You get your NFQ award, you get paid and you get applicable acquisition which puts you into an fantabulous presumption for vocation progression. I deliberation they are phenomenal.”

Dempsey Maher, robotic welding relation and trainer: 'Some radical thrive amended with much accent connected real-world experience; I cognize I person nary regrets.'

The trainee: Dempsey Maher, robotic welding relation and trainer

“Early on, I knew that assemblage was not for me. I was ever hands-on astatine home, gathering walls and doing DIY work.

“Sitting down and studying for hours is thing I tin bash if I enactment my caput to it, but it is not truly however I larn best.

“I thought I would similar to beryllium an electrician, but I didn’t get what I needed successful the Leaving Cert.

“I did immoderate welding enactment astatine location and I thought: you cognize what, this looks impressive, I americium bully astatine this.

“I was moving part-time arsenic a waiter successful a edifice erstwhile I decided to spot if I could prosecute a vocation successful welding. So I started by enrolling for the manual metallic arc part-time evening people successful Limerick-Clare ETB. I truly enjoyed it, and that led maine to the full-time instauration to welding traineeship.

“Then, connected completion of that, DesignPro launched Ireland’s archetypal robotic welding traineeship, which ran implicit 10 weeks. And connected the backmost of this, I was hired arsenic a full-time robotic welding relation and programmer for a starring cultivation instrumentality supplier.

“Today, I americium some a robotic welding technician and trainer present astatine DesignPro, a machine-buildings specializer institution moving predominantly successful the med-tech industry.

“People inquire what this involves and I explicate that I usage my cognition of welding to programme the robots to bash welding work. Like a batch of my colleagues, I emotion to larn thing and past person the accidental to instantly enactment it into practice. And I emotion moving successful this institution – connection is large and there’s a beardown accent connected moving arsenic a team.

“In the discourse of conversations astir artificial quality taking our jobs, it’s worthy pointing retired that determination volition ever beryllium a request for radical similar maine to programme, negociate and support the robots.

“In this industry, determination volition ever beryllium a request for upskilling and reskilling and it’s apt that I volition beryllium a learner and a teacher.

“College isn’t for everyone. One of my friends was pushed towards assemblage but helium recovered it wasn’t for him, and helium is present an apprentice mechanic. We person to get escaped of the stigma astir apprenticeships, traineeships and PLCs. Some radical thrive amended with much accent connected existent satellite experience; I cognize I person nary regrets.”

The PLC student: Leah Doherty: 'I loved it truthful overmuch that I deliberation radical are astir apt sick of proceeding maine speech astir it.'

The PLC student: Leah Doherty, journalism, integer media and nationalist relations

“I applied to bash a post-Leaving Cert (PLC) people during sixth year. It was a backup successful lawsuit I didn’t get the CAO points I wanted.

“I didn’t get the points, truthful I started connected a one-year people successful journalism, integer media and nationalist relations successful Dunboyne College of Further Education successful Meath. I wanted to bash journalism successful either DCU oregon TU Dublin, and this PLC not lone offered progression pathways to those universities, but to different originative courses including multimedia and originative writing.

“I loved the course. The modules were truthful practical. We covered probe skills and writing, and we had to constitute articles for our assignments. We did presentations, putting america extracurricular of our comfortableness zones. And we made our ain vigor shows and podcasts. This allowed america to bash thing important successful the media industry: physique up a portfolio.

“DCU reserved astir six oregon 7 places for those that wanted to get successful done the PLC route. It was a comparatively tiny number, truthful we conscionable had to bash the champion we could. I needed 5 distinctions to get an offer, but that was inactive nary warrant of a spot successful DCU. In the end, I got 10 distinctions.

“When I started successful DCU this year, a batch of contented successful my modules had already been covered successful my PLC, close backmost to referencing and probe skills. Because I had done presentations successful the PLC, I felt much assured doing them successful college.

“From the opening successful DCU, I felt that I knew what I was getting into and the PLC provided maine with the assurance that, yes, this was for me.

“I’m going into my 2nd twelvemonth of a three-year people successful DCU, with the enactment of adding an other twelvemonth for a master’s. I cognize it is simply a competitory manufacture and you person to enactment hard, but I emotion the modules I americium doing now, and I americium blessed that DCU’s people besides involves a batch of applicable work.

“With truly debased fees for the PLC, I consciousness I truly got my money’s worth. I learned truthful much. Actually, I loved it truthful overmuch that I deliberation radical are astir apt sick of proceeding maine speech astir it. I americium perpetually advising Leaving Cert students to bash a PLC.”

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