Exploring further education and training with Solas

There is no one defined path to success. Different education, training and career options suit different people, and we must be open to considering diverse opportunities including further education, apprenticeship and higher education in order to achieve success in our lives. 

Often for students the scramble is which third level course to choose as opposed to the different education routes there are and which one works for them. People learn in different ways and some students can reap huge benefits from different learning environments. 

Guidance Counsellors and teachers, among others, are key to inspiring and encouraging those starting out on their career path. They play such an important role in guiding and advising their students on the education paths that can get them to their chosen career. 

With so many opportunities and ways of learning available across all education sectors they know the importance of considering and exploring all routes so that a path best suited to the individual can be chosen. 

Further education and training offers high quality, relevant skills development programmes for school leavers with different learning experiences such as smaller class size on a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course or learning on-the-job through apprenticeships and traineeships.

Post Leaving option

Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses offer a variety of benefits for school leavers. The PLC programme is the largest full time further education and training programme with over 30,000 places. These 1-2 year programmes offer NFQ awards at levels 5 and 6. Interested students can apply directly to the colleges or via in many cases the further education and training course hub http://www.fetchcourses.ie. 

PLC programmes can equip students with the necessary skills for the workplace. In addition, many students who take up PLCs decide to continue studies upon completion and these courses can act as a stepping stone to third level study.  

Many universities, colleges and IOTs have programmes in place to recognise further education and training qualifications as a route to entry. If a student completes a PLC programme with good results, they have a good chance of securing a reserved place on a third level course. A database of such linked programmes is available on careersportal.ie.

There are also a number of successful collaborations between further education colleges and third level institutes for students interested in progressing. Some programmes facilitate students who wish to progress to degree programmes in higher education, including science, engineering and other mathematically driven degree programmes.


Apprenticeship in Ireland has traditionally been the path to skilled occupations in a range of industries and sectors such as construction, engineering, motor and electrical. 

Recently an expanded model of apprenticeship has been introduced, in which a wider range of occupations are attracting more people into apprenticeships. Since 2016 the range of apprenticeship options in Ireland has extended into areas such as insurance practice, electrical engineering, polymer processing, manufacturing engineering, international financial services, biopharma, auctioneering and property services, hospitality and accounting and cheffing. And there are many more on the way. 

The aim is to have over 70 types of apprenticeships available by 2020 leading to qualifications from level 6 which is an advanced certificate up to level 9 which master’s degree level on the National Framework of Qualifications. Apprentices are employed by a SOLAS-approved employer for the duration of the programme which is generally between 2-4 years. 

The key benefit of an apprenticeship is the opportunity to earn while you learn and getting into employment earlier can mean there’s lots of potential to progress into careers quickly. 


Traineeship gives participants the opportunity to develop cutting edge skills and knowledge on-the-job, making them more skilled, more employable and enhancing their career options. 

Traineeships also enables employers to access a pipeline of talent and learners. The training content and occupational standards for traineeships are developed in consultation with employers, trade unions, regulatory bodies and interest groups. Currently, there are over 50 traineeship programmes available around the country across a range of industry areas including aviation, IT, animation, hospitality and digital marketing. 

This number will increase with the development of more traineeships across a range of industries and sectors. All traineeships lead to an award at levels 4-6, on the National Framework of Qualifications and are 6 – 20 months in duration. 

For some students the difference that an education through a PLC, apprenticeship or traineeship offers can make all the difference for their future careers. There are many paths to a chosen career and further education and training is one that should not be overlooked.


For more information on further education and training courses and programmes see www.fetchcourses.ie, www.apprenticeship.iewww.traineeship.ie, www.solas.ie 

Previous Post
Next Post