Raising the Profile of Part Time Education

part time courses for adultsThe National Strategy for Higher Education has stated that much more progress needs to be made in terms of innovation and flexibility to raise the level of higher education attainment and lifelong learning for adults. While there has been growth in this sector, to achieve the objective, the needs of adults returning to education must be paramount. Adults who combine work or caring responsibilities with studies, unemployed people who want to gain new skills and seek qualifications while remaining available for work are typical for those seeking education and training and supports must be available to allow them to partake.

An essential part of the strategy is to enable broader ways of accessing appropriate learning, combined with a funding model that will support part time and full time students in equal measure. The higher education sector will also need to respond to external demands from employers and communities for continual professional development programmes and specific up-skilling.

Socio-Economic Factors

There are very strong social and economic reasons for extending the focus on raising education levels in the broader adult population. Evidence shows nationally and internationally the link between educational achievement and employment opportunities and the downside of lack of appropriate education – unemployment.

The cost of failing to consider long-term exclusion from the labour force is not to be underestimated. While the costs of education and support may seem significant, the cost of failing to provide these supports is greater resulting in long-term social welfare dependency, crime, poor mental and physical health, financial insecurity, housing insecurity, and social unrest. There are many reasons why people do not avail of education from school leavers who wanted to earn the easy money of the tiger years, to those who have dependents or were financially unable to attend college.

Part-time and Mature Student Profile

  • Mature students comprise 92% of those entering part-time, undergraduate programmes, compared with only 15% of full time entrants.
  • The majority of those entering part-time courses are from a broad range of age groups, compared to full-time students, who are predominantly 17 to 20 years old (79%).
  • There are distinctions between the age of full and part-time mature students with 25% of full-time entrants aged 23 or 24 while the majority (80%) are below 40 years of age, compared to part-time mature students, where 95% 23 to 56 years of age

There is not a wide range of socio-economic data available but recent findings about mature students will assist educational institutions of all kinds to focus the courses on offer for the potential new student population.

  • Mature students are slightly more likely be disabled in some way (9.5%) than the broader student body where this figure drops (5.9%). They are three times as likely to have a psychological condition or physical disability.
  • Estimates show that in general, there are a greater proportion of mature students (36%) from a manual worker background (unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled). This compares to only 22% in the younger age groups, particularly in Institutes of Technology.
  • The proportions of mature students from non-manual worker backgrounds are similar to the wider student body (11-12%).
  • There are higher retention rates for mature students on Level 6 and 7 than those on Level 8 courses.

Improving Awareness of Part Time Education

There is a need to improve the existing systems of information and guidance for higher and further education opportunities and in advice sources for those not engaged in education. Further work will be needed to promote the availability of the various part-time courses and supports on offer to a wider audience. Many part time mature students when canvassed indicated that around half did not receive any type of guidance to pursue their education. This is something that urgently needs rectifying. If guidance was received, it was invariably from the further education course provider.

Clearly there is a need for agencies to work together more and for the availability of information to be more accessible. The key to economic recovery in Ireland depends on an educated workforce at every level and the part time course is a vital element of this progress. Information and marketing to put the message out to adults who may be at a crossroads and looking for guidance plus sensible options for financing and support will lead to a more inclusive society, relief on the social welfare system and will make Ireland ready to catch the wave of emerging technologies.

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Free Training Programmes with the Irish Centre for Business Excellence

icbe sligoTwo innovative 20 week programmes for jobseekers are now available for application, delivered by The Irish Centre for Business Excellence (ICBE) in conjunction with City & Guilds.

Combining a unique combination of certified training (4 weeks) and work placement with mentor support (16 weeks), these programmes will provide jobseekers with the targeted training and skills needed to support their jobhunt.

Technical training options include either Warehousing and Logistics or Business Process Improvement.

Business Process Improvement participants gain skills in continuous improvement and ‘lean’ techniques which will enable you to contribute to the productivity and efficiency of an organisation. These skills are transferable and sought after by multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. This specialist programme is well suited to the professional or graduate who wishes to creatively build on their existing skills and transition into new areas.

Warehousing and Logistics offers an understanding of the supply chain process and gain new skills in this much sought after arena. Participants will cover topics such as: Modes of Transport, Recycling and Disposal, Receiving, Storing and Dispatch, International Transport/Haulage etc.

Both programmes are supported by employment mentoring with each participant to find a suitable work placement where both existing skills and new knowledge acquired on the programme can be applied. This is a significant opportunity for unemployed people to revitalize their careers.

These programmes are funded by government under the Momentum Skills programme which is investing €20 million in 2013 to provide free education and training places for up to 6500 people.

There are upcoming programmes beginning in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Meath in March.

The programmes are open to those who are at least 12 months on the Live Register and in receipt of jobseekers’ benefit or allowance or signing on for social insurance credit for at least 12 months and actively seeking work.

For further information on the programmes and how to register please visit the City and Guilds website www.cityandguilds.com/ireland/momentum

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Green Pathways

green pathwaysApplications to ECO-UNESCO’s newest initiative, Green Pathways, is now open to all young, unemployed job seekers under the age of 25. The six month programme, which is part of the newly launched Momentum initiative, aims to train and progress participants onto employment in the green economy.

Green industry is set to be a key growth sector for Ireland over the next decade. Through Green Pathways, ECO-UNESCO, the country’s leading environmental educational and youth organisation, will train and certify 80 participants, enabling them to take full advantage of green employment opportunities as they arise.

The focus of the Green Pathways programme is to build strong environmental, business, communications and leadership skills. Participants chose one of three pathways: the Green Leader path, the Green Enterprise path or the Green Youth & Community path. Through a programme of intensive learning, work-placements and project work, participants will achieve a FETAC-accredited qualification that will make them uniquely employable in the future.

Commenting on the initiative, ECO-UNESCO’s Executive Director Elaine Nevin said, “Green Pathways is an exciting and ambitious addition to our catalogue of educational initiatives. It’s aimed at getting young people out working and making them employment-ready once they finish. Youth unemployment is a serious problem in Ireland, we have one of the highest percentages of unemployed young people in Europe. Green Pathways will be an amazing opportunity for young people and will provide them with the security of employment in a growing, sustainable sector.”

ECO-UNESCO has been a FETAC accredited centre since 2005 and its headquarters, “the Greenhouse” is a dedicated training building in Dublin. The organisation has developed and provided a range of training courses aimed at up skilling young people in areas such as environmental auditing and impact practices, education and facilitation methodologies, systems thinking and sustainable development practice.

Green Pathways will begin in February 2013. For more information about the project and how you can sign up, visit www.ecounesco.ie

More details about ECO Unesco can be seen on their Findacourse.ie Page

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Film and Television Courses Popular as Industry Stays Buoyant

film and media coursesBord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) and FÁS have announced that the training resource for the television, film, and animation industries – Screen Training Ireland (STI), is to transfer to the IFB from February 2013. Personnel and budget will also transfer from FÁS to IFB after an agreement between the Department of Education and Skills, Heritage, Department of Arts and the Gaeltacht.

The core function of STI will remain the unit will deliver bursary awards and training courses to the audio-visual industry. Ireland’s significant film, animation, and television industry needs a highly skilled workforce. It is a fast changing industry in which Ireland has played a significant role through the years. Therefore, a dedicated resource to provide ongoing training and assessment of industry shortages is vital for continued success.

Arts Culture

Ireland has always had a thriving Arts culture and is a popular location for film shoots and television series. Some of the recent television productions made in Ireland have been global successes such as The Tudors, Camelot. The blockbuster Braveheart amongst many was also filmed on location in Ireland.

The Irish film industry has had huge growth over the last ten years and disproportionate to the size of the country and population, boasts huge film making talent. The film production sector in Ireland is estimated to be worth around €550 million with over 6,000 employees and over 560 small and medium businesses operating within the sector. Moreover, the value of Ireland’s film production and film locations is the amount of tourists that visit to experience the countryside, cities and villages they have seen in films. The tourist industry has tours devoted to films and the location tour for “The Quiet Man” remains one of the most popular.

Location route maps are available from the Irish Film Board for this purpose. In many ways while film seems like a magical realm, it offers practical career options and opportunity in an industry that is becoming even more sustainable now it has come of age.

There are many opportunities in the film and television industry and its associated offshoots with many courses available to students that love film and want to know more or those who wish to pursue a film industry career.

These various media courses are ideal also for those pursuing self improvement and self confidence with performing arts courses and the budding videographer who wants to build a career in wedding and corporate video has a wealth of film and camera courses to choose from. Film buffs will enjoy going “backstage” and learning about how a production comes to life and budding writers can hone their skills with course tailored to screenplay.

For those who wish to have a career in the broader film and television industry, a foundation course in a specialist area is the way forward to entering further education or direct to the industry.

Film Industry Courses

Many courses begin with a foundation year course and this article gives a brief overview of some that are available through Irish colleges.

Performing Arts Acting Foundation Year (Certificate award 1 year duration)
Bray Institute of Further Education – Fetac Level 5

Ideal for aspiring actors, this production-led intensive course develops imagination, self-confidence, concentration, and flexibility for students who wish to advance in performance theatre.

Masters in Interactive Media
Full time and Part time options – UCC

This course familiarises students with project management, animation technology and project work consisting of 2 and 3D animation.

FETAC Level 6 Media Production
Pulse College – 1 Year

Students will gain extensive experience while making television programmes, short films, and documentaries.

Animation Drawing Studies
Ballyfermot College of Further Education – 1 year

This inclusive foundation emphasises development of strong drawing skills with a broad course introducing animation.

Ballyfermot College of Further Education – 1 year

This is ideal for budding filmmakers and explores the role and function of the camera through hands on projects using 16/S16mm film cameras.

Audio Visual Media Production FETAC Level 5
Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute – 1 year

This course offers an introduction to the industry where the necessary skills are taught so the student may follow a career in a chosen area or continue education in the media and film industry.

Shorter FETAC courses are available on the national framework of learning allowing modules to be completed at the student’s own pace building up to a major award. At present new modules are being developed for the Photography, Television and Film, Radio Broadcasting, Multi Media, Graphic Design, Performing Arts, Acting and Theatre which will serve to enhance these courses.

Whether Hollywood is your destination or you just want to be able to film family occasions professionally, a film and television course could be a rewarding choice.

Denise Colebrooke

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Childcare Courses – Looking After the Future

childcareChild care professionals have an incredibly important job – nurturing children and looking after their safety and wellbeing. As such it is important that people this direction are well prepared and receive adequate training. The majority of childcare training courses available similar core topics, these include child development, early childhood education and communication. These days IT training is also included to a certain extent. This may only be simple computer skills, but a basic knowledge is required in order to operate some computer based learning systems that some childcare groups and companies employ.

Childcare Courses Ireland

Childcare courses, regardless of the nature of the content and the manner of teaching employed at the various colleges, can be quite comprehensive these days. There are certain laws and guidelines that everyone in this profession has to adhere to, and as a result these form an important part of any course. Modules on caring for children, appropriate behaviour, occupational first aid and a general introduction to working in childcare are all necessary and any good course will include them.

The other essential element of any good childcare course is work experience. Whether the course itself lasts one, two or three years, there should be an element of work experience to introduce you to the unpredictable world of work! This is most definitely the fun element! The length of the placement all depends on the individual college & the length of the course. Some placements may last just weeks, whereas others will require you to send an entire year working. This information will be available to you before you enrol on the course and the experience you would like can often determine which course you go for!

In terms of the career prospects on offer for individuals looking to complete a childcare course, there are a wide range of options. Some people choose to go on to teaching, others become a nanny in a private home or work in a day care centre. There would also be options to work with disabled or disadvantaged children which can be an extremely rewarding career choice for suitable candidates.

Childcare Resources

1. http://www.inchicorecollege.ie- Inchicore College offers two childcare courses, Childcare Studies and the CACHE Diploma. The choice allows you to choose the best one for you and your career

2. http://www.carlowcollege.ie – Carlow College?s Masters degree course is designed to help those working with troubled children and is perhaps one of the best courses in Ireland for that purpose.

3. http://www.ucc.ie – University College Cork offers a BA in Early Childhood Studies that is designed for individuals continuing from school or wanting to return to education.

4. http://www.limericksc.ie – Limerick Senior College offers a whole host of evening course and part time courses for people wanting to supplement their knowledge or change careers.

5. http://www.corkcollegeofcommerce.ie – Cork College of Commerce offers courses for those already in childcare and looking for career progression.

View Childare Courses on Findacourse.ie at www.findacourse.ie/childcare-courses-c26.html

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Third Level Merger Plans May Result in Technology Universities

colleges mergingNew proposals to cut the number of publicly funded third-level colleges in Ireland from 39 to 24 and eventually to 15 have recently been publicised. Supporters of the plans state the mergers will bring greater efficiency and improve quality. In the biggest shake up of universities and technology institutes for decades, colleges will pool their resources and try to reduce duplication of courses and administration.


Instead of separate human resource departments and payroll systems, the merged colleges would have a streamlined single system for functions of this type. Critics are sceptical and say the plans for these “super colleges” are always shifting and remain inconsistent. The sector has been buried under many different reports, recommendations, and plans.

There have of course been rumours and proposals before and a year ago, there were plans for two institutions. One merger was to result in a Border Midlands West (BMW) University covering Louth to Letterkenny and another the Technological University of Munster. These plans however, were cast out.

An expensive report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority resulted in a Dutch academic finding for a merger of UCD and Trinity. This proposal was not to popular taste and was discarded.

The continual shift and change of plan for these mergers is like trying to hook a duck at a fairground sideshow with the colleges bobbing this way and that. In this latest proposal, publicly funded third-level colleges throughout the country would be cut at first from 39 to 24 and then to a final 15.

The current plans include:

  • The merger of three technology institutes in Dublin namely DIT, Tallaght, and Blanchardstown.
  • ITs in Sligo, Letterkenny and Galway would merge
  • ITs in Carlow and Waterford ITs would come together with a view to becoming a technological university.

Collaboration between ITs and geographically close universities would be encouraged and Teacher-training colleges would be part of a merger with universities.

How Will The Merger Plans Work?

If two ITs merge that offer similar courses, does this mean one of the courses will be discontinued and the students and lecturers moved to another campus?

The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) thinks this is possible and is concerned that students and lecturers will have to move many miles as part of this policy bringing further issues.

Many students will have additional travelling time, costs to study, and may need to avail of grants for living away from home adding pressure to already stretched grant budgets.

With mergers of this kind, lessons need to be learned from the debacle of SUSI where a centralised system introduced for efficiency resulted in chaos. It was unable to perform the function it was designed for leaving many students without any means of grant support for weeks and months.

Depending on how the mergers are played out, demand for courses could result in similar or duplicate courses remaining at each physical location. More specialised courses will be centralised at one location which makes sense as this concentration is a component of building centres of excellence so that is one benefit of merging institutions.

Merger in Practice

The Institutes of Technology in Limerick and Tipperary hasve already amalgamated and so far, the change has not been as drastic as expected for students and lecturers.

The new institute encompasses four campuses – the art college in Limerick city, the main LIT campus and the Tipperary campuses in Clonmel and Thurles. The result is an increase from 400 to 800 students on the Tipperary campuses, a reduction in staff numbers from 105 to 90 and cost savings of €3m. The campuses offer the vast majority of its previous programme of courses.

Business courses are still spread over three campuses in Limerick, Thurles, and Clonmel but the specialist areas of taxation, accountancy, law, and finance are based in Limerick.

Despite teething troubles, the merger worked well and student services have improved. Financial, computer and human resource departments were centralised with some staff redeployed.

There are issues associated with remote campuses and the merged institute has separate sports teams, because it would not be possible to centralise training.

Whether some of the institutes of technology become technological universities post merger will depend on fulfilling certain academic criteria. For example to qualify as a technology university, 45% of teaching staff will have to have doctorates.

The Network for Irish Educational Standards warns the recent proposals from the Higher Education Authority are structural changes with little to do with improving quality.

Denise Colebrooke

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Findacourse.ie February 2013 E-News

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February 2013
Findacourse.ie Update
News and Events Technology Universities Third Level Merger Plans May Result in Technology Universities

New proposals to cut the number of publicly funded third-level colleges in Ireland from 39 to 24 and eventually to 15 have recently been publicised. Supporters of the plans state the mergers will bring greater efficiency and improve quality. In the biggest shake up of universities and technology institutes for decades, colleges will pool their resources and try to reduce duplication of courses and administration..
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St. Angela’s College, Sligo, is a fast growing, dynamic third level institution providing a high quality of education and research in the North West. As a College of the National University of Ireland, Galway, students are provided with University-level education, modern campus facilities, small classes and a strong community environment..

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Skill Shortage Survey Identifies Key Areas for Third Level and Further Education

skills shortagesThere is increasing concern at the skill shortages in Ireland that see 36% of companies advertising positions and hiring employees from overseas. While some employers are satisfied with the skills of Irish graduates, over a third of employers are reaching outside the country because there are gaps in the skill sets on offer.

Survey Findings

These findings are from a recently published survey of involving over 400 Irish and foreign companies. The study was commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) who welcomed the results as it provided information for changes needed in the third level education sector.

Two thirds of companies expressed confidence that the right transferable and workplace skills were possessed by graduates and that relevant subject knowledge and discipline for their jobs. In spite of public concerns that industry leaders have stated in recent years, over 80% of company were satisfied with the calibre of science and maths graduates.

Despite this high level of satisfaction, half of all companies participating in the survey wanted to see stronger engagement between industry and higher education institutes. The 36% of survey respondents that recruited from non-Irish education establishments blamed an insufficient number of available graduates with the right skills, particularly in Information Technology and Computing.

Further concerns were expressed about soft skills with the graduates ability to communicate effectively particularly in writing. The attitude of graduates was of significant concern with one common theme – graduates possessing the “right attitude” for the position. More employers are paying attention to these kinds of detail, often using psychometric testing and aptitude tests as well as conventional interview techniques.

The HEA report was designed with the assistance of employer bodies ISME, IBEC, Chambers Ireland, Small Firms’ Association, and American Chamber of Commerce.

Assessing the Choice of Third Level Courses

While the results of the survey show that Irish education is producing the right kind of skilled people to drive future development of the economy, there is room for improvement and it is quite clear that collaboration between industry and higher education must develop stronger links.

Clearly, students need to make informed decisions regarding their choice of third level course and match their skills to courses that best suit them rather than just points chasing. For sustainable careers, commercial decisions made at this stage could be the difference between a secure career and endless job search. Students need advice to read ahead to the demands of the employment market three or four years hence. Unless there are specific specialist courses a student wishes to pursue, more generalist courses such as science or humanities will keep options available for them.

Non-Academic Skills

It is interesting to note that expertise in a specific skills area is not enough and communication skills and people skills are equally important as business relies heavily on teamwork, interaction between staff members and customers. Graduates who need assistance in this area can avail of one of the many communication skills modules available at further education institutes or participate in elective modules throughout their third level years.

Technology Expansion

In particular the information technology sector worldwide is expanding and Ireland needs skilled graduates work in emerging technology areas like cloud computing. Increasingly, the shift in global IT will need new kinds of IT professionals such as data scientists and cloud architects to create efficient virtual platforms cost effectively that will replace the traditional infrastructures of IT. They need to be big thinkers who can make sense of the data volumes generated by business, public sector, and general population.

There is no reason why Ireland cannot be at the forefront of the revolution. A new information age is approaching where jobs will offer exciting developments for those entering this sector. As well as the new technology, there is still a demand that cannot be fulfilled for software developers, computer programmers, support personnel with foreign languages and support technicians.

Opting in to IT courses will improve not only graduate’s chances of gaining employment, but for anyone looking to change career or retrain. It opens up the job market in the IT industry, financial services, life science, and clean energy, which require IT skills.

Pathways to this growth area can also be achieved by retraining, undertaking courses that will build up enough knowledge and accreditation to complement leaving certificate points, industry or life experience in order to attain the required entry level for specific third level courses. Knowing what industry to target for employment is half the battle for any student.

Denise Colebrooke

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Adult Learners Festival 2013

adult learners festivalThis year sees the seventh annual Adult Learners Festival. Aos Oideachais Náisiúnta Trí Aontú Saorálach (AONTAS) – the national adult learning centre are once again running this highly anticipated event, which will take place from February 25th to March 2nd this year. The success of previous years will be built upon as different organisations around Ireland hold events in their own locality to encourage adults to explore the variety of learning options available to them.

All kinds of organisations have become involved, some for the first time and others who have been part of this initiative from the start. Providers of adult education, museums, galleries, libraries, community groups, specialist groups, in fact anywhere that adult learning takes place will offer the opportunity for all adults to participate in a variety of events. There is something for everybody from perfecting digital camera skills at your local community centre, getting on terms with Skype and other communication tools, e-publishing, seed sowing, green topics, learning for job success, drumming and meditation workshops to name a few.

The mission of AONTAS is that all Irish adults should have access to learning opportunities as adult learning has an important role to play in the social and economic future of Ireland. The Adult Learners’ Festival is a national celebration of adult learning, which gives an opportunity for wide scale promotion with a demonstration of its value.

 Festival Objectives:

  • Celebrate adult learning and learner achievements.
  • Show case for adult education providers.
  • Promote work of the adult education sector and AONTAS.
  • Place adult education firmly on the political agenda.

This year each day of the festival has a relevant theme and organisers and participants are encouraged to get involved in one, some or all of them.

Festival Theme Days

• Monday 25th February 2013 – Celebrate Learning

• Tuesday 26th February 2013 – Green Learning

• Wednesday 27th February 2013 – Learning Communities

• Thursday, 28th February 2013 – Learning for Work

• Friday, 1st March 2013 – Lobby for Learning Day

• Saturday, 2nd March 2013 – Family & Intergenerational Learning Day

AONTAS welcomes all groups and individuals and encourages them to become involved in the 2013 Adult Learners’ Festival. It makes no difference whether participants are part of big national organisations, large or small business, or local community group. The diversity of participation is a bonus for making the Festival a success. All ideas for events are welcome and AONTAS would love to have a discussion with all participants, so they can help publicise events on their website and in their press releases and other media communications. Posters and publicity material are available to event organisers, groups and individuals interested in taking part in the Festival.

Star Awards Celebrate Learning

The Monday of the Festival sees the announcement of the 2013 Star Awards chosen from nominated projects and judged by an experienced panel. In total, 36 projects made the shortlist and these will be reviewed in the preceding weeks before the awards ceremony takes place at the Burlington Hotel.

Past winners include Age Action for their “Getting Started” project where volunteers teach older people internet and computer skills and the Knockmay Women’s Voice Quilting Project where local women living in social exclusion and poverty are empowered to express their dreams along with their experiences of poverty and social exclusion

Green Learning

Tuesday’s Green Learning theme will include events where learning about sustainable living, gardening, organic food, environmental issues, and other green topics is available at many locations around the country.

Community Learning

The Wednesday theme is for events that encourage learning at local level in the community. An array of learning experiences in community centres, libraries, museums, and heritage centres bring education to everyone’s doorstep as part of a wider process.

Learning for Work

Learning for Work on Thursday is an opportunity for adult learners to learn how to up skill, take up training and learn about preparation for returning to the work force after being at home, unemployed or redundant. There are also events for those adults in the workforce to demonstrate adult education comes in all shapes and forms and is available to learners whatever the circumstances.

Learning Day Lobbying

On Friday, it is all hands on deck to raise the profile of adult learning and to make its value visible in the political and social arenas.

Family Learning

Saturday sees events for the whole family across the generations. These events show how learning can take place within families and what can be learned from others within that group.

Adult learning is not just about night classes, masters degrees or a return to classroom based learning. The Festival will show that adult learning is important, and can encompass serious subjects with a qualification at the end of the tuition as well as learning for fun from cake decorating to local history.

For more information view the Adult Learners Festival website at http://www.adultlearnersfestival.com/

Denise Colebrooke

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Further Education Key to Recovery

computer-trainingThe recent recession has caused major upheaval in many people’s lives and as the reality of lack of jobs hits home, thoughts often turn to re-training in a different area, enhancing existing skills and adding value to life experience in order to meet the new demands of employment. As the austerity years progress, new opportunities for growth will be largely driven by government policy, foreign investment and emerging sectors.

In order to tap into these areas, it is important to understand the necessary skill sets needed and look at gaining the appropriate training and qualifications. One group ideally positioned to take advantage of these new opportunities and gaps in industry sectors are mature students. The new year is the ideal time to research and contemplate how a return to education can complement existing skills and add relevant knowledge to the jobseekers portfolio.

Mature Students

Students of this type are becoming major consumers of training courses. They  may be long term unemployed, recently graduated, redundant, semi-retired or a former business owner. Age is irrelevant to education and in these times, it is important particularly for those who have sustained a career to date, to evaluate their existing skills and identify any areas where up skilling and re-training will enhance their prospects when job hunting.

Returning to education can be daunting for some older students and going to college again is something that many already qualified people find hard to adapt to, but the benefits and the experience of study far outweigh any doubts and worries.

The broad range of training courses available, means that subjects of value exist to enhance every student’s CV and experience portfolio. Whether a Fetac award module or an under graduate degree program, the very act of study and sense of purpose has been found to enhance essential soft skills needed in the market place and boost self-confidence of students giving additional benefits.

Mature students as a group are core members of any further education college or university. Usually they have a clear knowledge of what they wish to gain from their study and this drives them to achieve better results on completion of training courses.

Entry Requirements and Finance

Many people looking for a course are under the impression that a leaving certificate (or similar) is essential to attend college of any kind but this is not the case for mature students. Depending on the course, some colleges may require that some leaving certificate subjects were studied in the past. Each course and college will have a set of criteria for entry and individual cases can be discussed with the college.

Becoming a mature student is life changing and juggling family life with study can be a struggle as well as a financial burden for some. Having support from friends and family is important. Financing college may be challenging but there are many finance streams and supports to help depending on eligibility. There are back to education allowances, maintenance grants, FAS funding, springboard and student funds at some universities.

Colleges are experienced with the needs of mature students and may offer advice and support personally and academically. Those mature students applying for particular courses in universities may need to sit a Mature Student Admissions Pathway test.

Prospects for Mature Students

Over the last five years due to the economic climate, the coupling of skills with jobs has become more difficult but mature students have an advantage as previous experience and knowledge make them good, committed students who will take full advantage of the training they receive. Ireland is continuing to invest in education and training, and there is commitment to supporting the creation of highly skilled jobs in some of the identified growth sectors such as technology, the green economy, healthcare, communications and information technology and healthcare. These growth sectors not only offer opportunity for work within Ireland but across all EU member states.

There is no better time for people to invest in them selves to prepare for the inevitable opportunities that will arise in the future as emerging technologies grow and international confidence is restored in Ireland.

New skills and the changes they bring not only revitalise individuals but also in time will help to revitalise the economy. This is why further education colleges are a vital part of Ireland’s future. The diversity of subjects, quality of teaching and skills of graduates are the key to Ireland’s growth and recovery.

Denise Colebrooke

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Emerging Green Sector Promises Opportunities

green-economyOne of the emerging areas of innovation that will help Ireland to recover from the recent global recession is the Green Economy. The Irish economy was one of the hardest hit by the recession. With unemployment figures reaching 15% in 2012 and the austerity cuts, there are still serious doubts that the presently recumbent Celtic Tiger will be able to bite back in the next ten years or so.

Despite the undoubted challenges, an attempt to meet the need for growth head on is being taken seriously by the Irish government, looking to innovation as the main driver in developing the economy again. Key strategies are being developed to focus on the economy in areas the government see as critical in transforming the business sector over the next years of recovery.

The Green Economy

The Green Economy encompasses activities across many sectors that have a common objective of providing services and goods sustainably, which in turn reduces impact on the environment. These sectors include energy efficient products, renewable energy, efficient production methods, recovery, recycling, and re-use of waste, low carbon vehicles and water management. The Green Economy estimated to be worth around €5 trillion is expected to employ 36 million people worldwide by 2015. It makes perfect sense then that Ireland is focusing on this growth area.

How will Ireland Capture some of the Green Sector?

There are clues to be found in the recent policy statement by the Government “Delivering Our Green Potential” the subject that is employment and growth in the Green Economy.  The document lays out how Ireland is best positioned to capture a small but nevertheless significant slice of this growing and important sector.

The document defines Ireland as having significant advantages and strengths to be used to exploit Green Economy business opportunities. Ireland has plenty of renewable energy resources opening up the prospect of Ireland exporting clean energy resources to the UK. There is also a strong base of research, which is highly relevant to be tapped for new opportunities in the sector.

The natural resources that Ireland has are excellent. Clean water, land, and air support sustainable economic development within a natural environment second to none. This rich bio-diversity will help to develop green tourism and related activities. There are already a number of organisations and companies that have international credibility and proven record of accomplishment in the Green Economy.

Key Issues

Government Commitment

The Government’s commitment to real action means green policies will be pushed forward. The Government already has an established renewable energy policy to develop further ocean, wind, and transport energy, research and development, bio energy and energy infrastructure. The objective is to reduce public sector energy usage by 33% by 2020.

Green Economy Financial Services

The fact that the green economy can be applied across all sectors means the Government has engaged in growing a green financial services industry that supports the financing, development, and promotion of a low-carbon economy as a key niche.

The global investment in this sector alone is estimated to have fourfold growth to over €700bn by 2020. The aim is for Ireland to develop reputation as a global green financial management hub. Green assets in Ireland have tripled in the past four years.

Green Innovation

Commitment to supporting green innovation through facilitating and encouraging collaboration between the business sector and university sector by prioritising research in areas such as smart grids and smart cities, sustainable food production, marine renewable energy and smart cities and smart grids.

For example, the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC), is collaboration between government departments, state agencies, government departments, industry partners and higher education institutions led by University College Cork. IMERC aims to use the experience of teachers, researchers, and naval personnel in the development of an ‘ecosystem of innovation’ in the maritime sector underpinning Ireland’s leading position in the ocean energy sector.

Demand for Skills

Demand for skills is increasing and within the sector, there are jobs with specialist skill sets but also for support staff in more general areas. Expertise is required in mathematics, engineering, science, and technology. As a result of this policy, there is opportunity for jobs growth and further education colleges and universities are being encouraged to align courses and teaching with the requirements of companies in the green sector.

This policy statement should give plenty of encouragement to those seeking work and those looking for a long-term career in a growth industry. There are many ways to achieve this objective. Foundation courses at a further education level could be the platform from which to step onto a ‘green career’.

While Ireland has a long way to go to become the Celtic Tiger again, at least there is a strategy to grow the economy in a globally important sector over the coming years.

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Adult Learning – A Second Chance

adult learningShort courses at night schools, vocational courses designed to give people a trade or enhance existing skills and attending university courses on a full or part time basis are all forms of adult learning.

Adult learning courses usually last between eight weeks and nine months, depending on the nature of the course and the content. For example, a skills course to enhance administration skills will probably last longer than one covering cake decoration. Adult learning courses usually require an individual to attend two to three times a week for one or two hour classes.

The classes can be scheduled at any time of day but are most commonly run as evening courses to help people to arrange them around their working patterns or their other commitments, such as caring for children. There may also be two versions of the same course running simultaneously, one in the day and one in the evening, to give more flexibility & cater for a those with differing schedules.

Adult Learning, further education

In terms of the course content to be found on adult learning schemes, it varies in relation to the course itself, but the majority of the work and assessment is classroom based with a practical exam or regular exam at the end of the course. However, the typical course content for adult learning varies depending on area of study.

In terms of career progression, adult learning courses can considerably enhance your career prospects. A good number of the courses are designed to introduce you to new skills related to your existing career or enhance those that you already have. The ones that can supplement your existing knowledge can enhance your employability for future jobs elsewhere or indeed enhance your position within the company, thus making your promotion prospects more real.

If you are looking for further information on adult learning then there is a wealth of information out there at your fingertips that you can tap into. Why not view more infomation on adult learning resources on our Part Time Learning Feature.

Adult Learning Resources

1. National University of Ireland in Galway is committed to promoting lifelong learning, from interest courses through to the Masters programs that they offer.

2. Dublin Adult learning Centre offers a wide range of programs to help individuals advance their career, and also offers a creche so that parents wanting to learn do not have to miss out. Their primary course offerings concern general education for individuals that previously missed out.

3. PCI College; PCI College, one of Ireland’s leading providers of training and education in the field of counselling and psychotherapy

4. University College Dublin offers over 200 adult learning courses, from access courses to credit courses to interest courses, meaning that there is something for everyone!

5. The Waterford Institute of Technology offers professional development for adults looking to get ahead in their careers. Their comprehensive programs caters for those in the industries of engineering, health, business, education, humanities and the sciences.

See also evening and part time courses on Findacourse.ie at www.findacourse.ie/part-time-evening-courses-ireland.html

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EU Presidency Promises Focus on Higher Education

eu-europeEducation is highlighted in Ireland’s priorities in its term of the EU Presidency. The Presidency will carry the theme of ensuring sustainable growth and jobs. Education and training is a pivotal element in this aspiration. Ruairí Quinn T.D The Minister for Education and Skills laid out Ireland’s priorities for education during the EU Presidential term at the start of this New Year.

The Presidency of the Council of the EU, will be held by Ireland until June 30th 2013 and Minister Quinn described the Presidential theme as one of assurance to sustain jobs and growth using education and training as key elements to tackle Ireland’s unemployment crisis.

The improvement of skills, access to the right education and training particularly for young people will play a major role in encouraging investment into the EU. This opportunity with Ireland at the helm of the EU will clearly help avoid the long-term negative effects of a lost generation with the social and personal consequences across Europe.

Various legislative priorities for education have been identified for attention during the course of the Presidency. These priorities are:

Regulation to establish “Erasmus for All”

Erasmus for All will replace seven existing programmes with one. To increase efficiency, all of the current EU and international schemes for sport, youth, training and education will be brought together to improve efficiency by making it easier to apply for grants, streamlining the process to avoid duplication and fragmented administration. The scheme is due to start in 2014.

The issue of a new Directive to modify Directive 2005/36 on recognising professional qualifications

The Directive defines the procedures and related matters be adhered to by regulatory bodies and other competent authorities when recognising qualifications of professionals who have migrated from other EU Member States. The proposal’s objective is to make is a more simple process for skilled and qualified professionals to work in other EU Member States. Better provision of information and simplification of procedures will reinforce protection for consumers. This will be particularly relevant to patients in respect of the language skills of health service professionals.

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and European Social Fund (ESF) Regulation

Ireland is funded by €375m for the period 2007-2013. These funds, invested in projects and programmes activate the unemployed, and address social inclusion and equality matters. Youth is particularly emphasised. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (the EGF) was set up in December 2006 for the purpose of supporting workers who are made redundant resulting from changes global trade patterns. The fund is used to support and assist redundant workers back to employment. The next round of funding and operating negotiations is anticipated to fall within Ireland’s EU Presidency.

Decision on Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) & Regulation amending 2008 Regulation, which established the EIT

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) was established to tackle Europe’s innovation gap and is the flagship education institute of the EU. Its purpose is to assist research, innovation, and growth in the EU. The legislative proposals for the EIT (2014 – 2020) were published in November 2011. The task of final negotiations on these two legislative proposals will fall to the Irish EU Presidency.

The Irish Presidency will address further priorities in training and education areas:

Teachers and Schools

A linked Presidency conference on the teacher/educator role will be held. The focus will be on improvements in policy support for the teacher/educator profession.

A further Presidency conference will be held themed on better evaluation and assessment for better school and learning systems.

Higher Education:

The Irish system will be addressed to fall into line with EU2020 agenda, which sets out steps to modernise higher education and achieve a target that 40% of 30-34 year olds should have tertiary or equivalent education completed by 2020. Focus will be on the social, there will be a focus on the social element of higher education. Non-traditional and students from disadvantaged backgrounds and non-traditional students will have improved access to higher education using new effective strategies. These strategies will form a key role in Member States striving to achieve the 2020 target

National Qualification Frameworks (NQF) and European Qualifications Framework (EQF):

The theme of quality assurance in qualification frameworks will be the subject of a Presidency conference. Focus will be concentrated on how the employment sector is engaged in quality outcomes for learning and quality assurance relative to labour market needs.

With previous Presidencies, Ireland has worked to drive the legislative process of the EU further and this will continue during the tenure ensuring Ireland’s continuation as a fair and impartial holder of the office of EU President.

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Findacourse.ie January 2013 News Update

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January 2013
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Hi-Tech, Hands-On Open Evening

electronics and alarm installation coursesHi-Tech Training are hosting a “Hands-On” Open Evening and are inviting participation in Live Technical Exercises in Dublin on Weds 23rd Jan (6-9 pm)

The Open Evening Experience is being hosted in  4 North Great Georges Street, Dublin 1.

The evening will give you the opportunity to: –

Preview Intruder Alarms & Access Control, Alternative Energy, IT and Electronics Courses.

Participate in “Hands-On” technical exercises to get a real insight into what the courses are all about.

See and experience equipment involved.

Chat with Instructors and ask questions.

Get €30 voucher on any course booked at Open Evening Event.

Refreshments will be served.

6.00 pm Meeting and welcome

6.30 pm CCTV
– CCTV introduction and uses in homes and businesses
– Developments in testing and remote access
– Question and Answer Session

7.00 pm IT and Electronics
– Careers in Electronics and IT
– Diploma in IT Systems Support
– City and Guilds worldwide recognition
– Question and Answer Session

7.30 pm Alternative Energy
– Solar PV, Solar Water & Wind
– Return on your investment
– Question and Answer Session

8.00 pm Access Control
– Uses and applications
– Integrating Access Control with renewable energy
– Question and Answer Session

8.30 pm Intruder Alarms
– Overview of an installation
– Wireless v’s Standard wired systems
– Question and Answer Session

For more information on courses run by Hi-Tech Training view the Hi-Tech Training Findacourse.ie Page

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