Cork College of FET

Direct your own future. With over 200 courses from our 7 campuses in and around Cork City and County, we have plenty of opportunities to help you find the pathway to your future career.


Ireland has, perhaps uniquely amongst our European Union, a preoccupation with going to college on the completion of post primary schooling. The CAO points race, the “league table”, the conversation amongst parents at a GAA match, Feis or other event more often than not comes back to what college course sons and daughters aspire to, and the points required for entry.

One has to ask is this healthy, indeed if it is fundamentally flawed. Does every 17 or 18-year-old know exactly what career they want to embark on, what if despite their best efforts they fail to achieve the required points? What if they are not ready for college, or if financial circumstances don’t support a college degree, or what if they want to start work after finishing school? And bearing in mind that the current generation will have several careers before they reach retirement age, are there other options that allow a young (and not so young) person explore careers and opportunities outside the CAO/College system?

Thankfully, there are real, viable alternatives. Further Education and Training (FET) programmes, delivered nationwide by the Education and Training Boards, provide a range of options for people wishing to progress their education towards employment, or to enter into paid training for employment.

Funded by SOLAS, the further education and training agency, Ireland’s apprenticeship system has been reinvigorated, with an expanded range of options available for young people. While the “traditional” craft apprenticeships remain strong (for construction related roles as electricians, plumbers, instrumentation technicians, etc.) they have been joined by a range of new apprenticeships in fields as diverse as Property Services, Accounting Technician, Chef, Insurance, Cyber Security to name but a few of these new “earn and learn” options. All lead to a recognised qualification and involves both on and off the job learning opportunities.

Level 5 and 6 Post Leaving Cert courses provide another valuable avenue to further study and employment. The range
of courses (generally of 1- or two-years duration) is diverse, ranging from Furniture Design to Veterinary Nursing, from Childcare to Laboratory Science. For a school leaver who maybe is unsure of their preferred career path, or who did not gain the points required for college entry, these courses allow them to gain a qualification that provides opportunities to progress to employment or enter college. Many of these level 5 and 6 courses have direct links into Higher Education programmes, both in Ireland and abroad, and the experience of many students who have studied at these levels before going on to college is that the intermediate step of the FET course has made the transition to college life and study easier. FET courses generally have smaller numbers, ensuring better support, and eligible learners may avail of SUSI grant funding.

Students in Cork are probably better catered for with alternatives than anywhere else in the country. Cork ETB, through its Cork College of FET Campuses delivers a wide range of courses that can cater for almost any ambition. Details are available at, or on, and applications will be open until the middle of September.

So, if you are unsure about going to third-level, or if you wanted to go but didn’t get the points required, there is no need to panic. There are other options. No one option is intrinsically better than another; each student has to choose what is right for them. Cork Education and Training Board prides itself on providing a “Pathway for every learner”; take the next step, and identify the first step on that pathway that is right for you.

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