Choosing a CAO College

choosing a collegeWith 7 universities, 14 Institutes of Technology, 5 Colleges of Education and various Independent Colleges to choose from; the CAO list of colleges can be overwhelming when you are trying to make a decision. Let’s have a look at some things to remember when you are making your decision that will help make the process of choosing that bit easier.

It may sound basic, but the first thing to keep in mind when you are choosing a college is what it is that you actually want to study. Don’t pick a college just because your friends are going; think of the subject that you want to study and the job you would like to have in the future and try to pick a college that offers the best course in that area. There are plenty of colleges that are best for particular fields of study such as IADT in Dublin for art and design, the Colleges of Education such as St. Patrick’s for teaching, Institutes of Technology for business, engineering, science.

Research has shown that those students who did their homework when choosing a college were less likely to drop out in first year, so browse the college websites and go to the various college open days that will be on during the year. Check out the college facilities such as the library and sports facilities as well as what clubs and societies are available to join.

Take into account the location of the college and the cost of living involved in studying there; will you be able to live at home or will you have to move out? Will you be able to live on campus or will you be looking for accommodation nearby? A college in a big city or near a tourist destination will be mean more expensive accommodation so make sure to go through your budget first and be clear on what you can afford or see if you are entitled to a student grant.

Students can often fall into the trap of picking a course based on its title while failing to look in detail at the course content, only to find that when they start, the course is not suited to them. Find out the answers to practical questions about the course. What are the hours involved? Will there be Erasmus or work placement involved? Is there a tutor/mentor system in place? It can be a good idea to contact a past student or a course co-ordinator to ask any questions you may have.

Think of your future job and look at the links various colleges have with businesses and industries that are relevant to your chosen course and career. DCU has a INTRA Internship Programme where students gain paid, relative work experience as part of their degree courses. A 2011 survey showed that 90% of students who graduated with a degree in DCU the previous year were in employment or further study; a higher rate than the national average. Tralee IT has close links with businesses in the Shannon Developments Kerry Technology Park as well as hosting research centres for global companies.

Trinity College Dublin currently ranks as the top university in Ireland, followed by University College Dublin in second place and University College Cork in third. CAO rates DCU, Dundalk IT, NUIG and Tralee IT as being colleges that stand out in terms of location, research and campus commitment to the well-being of students.

However, regardless of where a college is ranked in any list, at the end of the day the best college for you will be the one that ticks most of your boxes with regard to everything that you are looking for from your college experience. So why not get researching and improve your chances of college success with a well educated decision!

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Distance Learning Courses

distance learningWould you like to do an interest course or study for a qualification to improve your career options – but think it’s just not possible due to the ever increasing demands on your time? With a full-time job, childcare, commuting and the rest, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to attend even a part-time course.

If this sounds like you, then Distance Learning may be the answer. Think of it, you could study for that degree in History you’ve always wanted to do, or get that childcare qualification you need – at a pace that suits you and from the comfort of your own home. The only requirement is a personal computer (in most cases) and some degree of self discipline.

Distance Learning Ireland

How does Distance Learning work?
Distance Learning is at is sounds – you learn at a distance from the college, on your own and in your own time. While it is the same as any other course in that you read course material and write assignments; it is different in that the course material is sent to you through the post or online, and attendance is limited to occasional seminars and workshops. If this all sounds good so far but you are worried by the thought of being completely alone in this endeavour, don’t be! Distance learning is also ‘supported learning’ in that you will usually have a tutor assigned to you -who is available to provide help, give feedback and grade assignments.

What type of qualification will I get?
Distance Learning through a recognised education provider generally works on a modular basis. This means that for every module or section of a course you study, you receive credits. Once you have achieved a sufficient amount of credits you will be awarded a Certificate, Diploma or Degree. The level of qualification you achieve and the length of time it takes is up to you. You could work towards a degree over 3 or 4 years, or simply study subjects that appeal to you on a more leisurely basis.

Distance Learning Providers
Since Adult Education has become a booming business in Ireland, there are now more Distance Learning colleges and courses available than ever before. Some of the more mainstream providers are as follows:

This college has a long and distinguished history as one of the leading providers of Distance Learning Education in Ireland. Offers nationally recognised QQI certification. Has a dedicated team of student advisors and tutors.

The Open University

Probably the best known, and for a long time the only provider of Distance Learning, the Open University offers over 600 courses in a variety of areas. Recognised worldwide, courses are available in a variety of fields from Humanities to Engineering.


Perhaps the Irish version of the Open University but on a smaller scale, Oscail was set up and is accredited by Dublin City University. They currently offer diplomas and degrees in Nursing, Arts, Science and IT, in addition to some post graduate options.

Many Universities now offer some Distance Learning options as part of their adult learning programmes. NUIG for example, offers a Diploma/Degree in Social Care (amongst others), while the National College or Ireland, offers a Degree in Human Resource Management. If there is a specific course you are interested in, your local University is often a good first port of call.

Private Colleges
There are a number private Distance Learning Colleges in Ireland, offering a whole range of courses and options. Some like the College of Progressive Education are specialised in the type of courses they offer (Childcare/Montessori), while others offer much wider range of options.

When choosing a Distance Learning course, it is important to consider the following:

Is Distance Learning for you? – are you the type of person who can study at home under your own steam? It will involve you managing your own study, setting yourself goals and deadlines, and this isn’t for everyone.

What do you want from a Distance Learning course? Are you studying a subject out of interest, or hoping to gain a qualification? This is very important distinction to make when choosing a college and course, as not all courses on offer are accredited. Make sure to check this out before spending your money. lists a wide variety of Distance Learning Courses on the following page –

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Summer Options for Third Level Students

summer options and coursesWith the approach of Summer most students are facing changes ahead. The end of year exams usually take place and the light at the end of the tunnel approaches in the form of three months away from college books and deadlines. The summer holidays are a great opportunity to embrace a change in pace, this can mean a new job for the summer, taking a course or even travelling and experiencing new cultures.

The options are plentiful and below are a few ideas to help make the most of those Summer months.

  • If you are passionate about working in a particular field in the future, the quieter summer months can be a great time to apply for work experience. Many companies will have reduced numbers due to staff holidays and be happy to have extra help. Work experience enhances a CV and is a good way to make contacts for the future. If going this route, find out what companies are operating in your chosen field of future study and give them a call or view their website for contacts & opportunities, bear in mind this is best done in advance of the Summer months and many calls or emails may have to be made to secure even a non-paid position. Look at it as valuable experience for the future.
  • The summer holidays can also be an ideal time to get a paying job and save some money. There are always plenty of positions available seeking college students for the summer months and many of them can be found online. One online resource can be found at – Jobs such as au-pairing, summer camp leaders and specific student summer roles are all on offer.
  • The summer break can be a great time to learn a new language. The time away from the pressures of college is the opportunity to immerse yourself in studying something new. There are plenty of courses available around the country such as those run in Sandford Languages Institute which has a wide range of language courses starting in June.
  • One of the best ways to savour having three months holidays is to travel. The J-1 Summer Work and Travel Programme allows full-time third level students to enter America on a J-1 exchange visitor visa. This means students can live and work in the USA for up to four months. Another travel option is to sign up for a volunteering programme in a country such as India, Peru or Cost Rica. Volunteering is a great way to see the world while doing something rewarding. More information can be found at
  • For those who want to stay closer to home and are looking for ways to fill their time, Summer courses can be a good option, An example is IADT in Dun Laoghaire which offers a wide selection of art based summer courses including portfolio preparation, watercolour classes and botanical art and illustration. For more information visit
    Other colleges offering Summer courses include UCD ( and Letterkenny IT (offering a 4 day Computer Summer Camp). NUI Galway also offers a range of Summer schools, more info at

Of course there’s always the option of taking a well earned break from exam stress and study and if you feel like you need some recuperation time then maybe the best plan is not to plan at all and enjoy a few months with your family and friends.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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North West Career Fest 2017

northwest career fest in SligoThe inaugural North West IGC Careers Fair will take place in IT Sligo on May 11th 2017 from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The schedule includes exhibitors from the higher education sector, industry, state organisations and the voluntary sector.

The event is aimed at providing a platform locally for students from the region to meet with colleges, training bodies, and local businesses. They will also experience visiting a third level institution and have the opportunity to attend brief lectures/talks.

All information about the event is on the website: There are currently two sessions; 9.30am to 12pm & 12.30pm to 3pm. This is a unique opportunity for students in the region to meet with successful employers and find out about career opportunities.

The event will be supported with information provided by a wide selection of third level institutions. This is a non-profit event which has the aim of becoming firmly established on school calendars on an annual basis.

For more info, visit

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Manual Handling Courses

manual handling coursesManual Handling training is a requirement of Regulation 69 of the Safety Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. These regulations are applicable to all work places and extremely relevant to many.

So, what exactly is Manual handling? It means any moving of loads by hand where a person could hurt themselves. A fuller definition is: Any transporting or supporting of a load by one or more employees, and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or unfavourable conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees. Manual handling training courses are specifically designed to enable employees to avoid injuries.

Yes, we take it for granted that we know how to lift or put down a box, without causing injury. Some of us might even rubbish such courses. However, according to the Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA) Statistics Summary for 2009 – 2010, manual handling injuries accounted for one third of all reported injuries in 2010. These injuries are serious enough to keep the injured party out of work for 3 days or more often at significant expense to the injured party and their employer. Therefore, as an employee or an employer a manual training course is something that has to be taken seriously. As a job seeker, it might even give you an advantage over other applicants who have not completed manual handling training.

In June 2006, the HSA set up a Manual Handling Training Advisory Group. Since then, the group has worked in conjunction with the Further Education and Training Awards Council (now QQI) on developing the new Manual Handling Instruction Standards.
manual handling courses in Ireland
In order to raise awareness of this issue and assist employers, the HSA has published a wide range of material on manual handling guidance and has produced on-line video case studies. There is guidance specifically for the Healthcare, Hospitality and Retail Sector where workers are particularly vulnerable to back injury. One of the main contributory causes of back injury in workplaces has been the lack of risk assessment of manual handling. The HSA guidance gives illustrated examples of simple solutions including the use of appropriate handling aids and/or better organisation of work.

Frank Power, Health and Safety Authority Inspector, believes that sector specific guidance is particularly useful, “By looking at the kind of work a Porter, Nurse or Shop Assistant has to do and giving practical examples of how to deal with manual handling we can see improvements in sectors that would have a high incidents of related injuries. There is no point in waiting until an accident has happened, by then it’s too late. I would encourage employers to consult with their employees and together they can come up with solutions that are effective in reducing or avoiding the risk and are acceptable to both parties.”

Manual Handling Courses should not just be seen as another course you have to do. It should be viewed as an occupational training course that will increase employability and performance. As an employee, it might prevent you joining the 33% of people who are annually out of work due to back injury. Work-place accidents also cost an employer a lot of money and expense. Unfortunately, sometimes a back injury can be for life, whilst a training course is just a few hours!

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HEA Report Shows 85% Progression Rate to Second Year

progression rates reportIn the fifth of a series, a new Higher Education Authority report, ‘A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education’, published in April 2017, focuses on the progression of students from their first year of study in 2013/14 to their second year of study in 2014/15.

The report shows that 85% of full time undergraduate new entrants in 2013/14 progressed to their second year of study in 2014/15. This compares favourably to international rates and shows that the proportion progressing has increased slightly over the last few years (from 84% in 2010/11 to 85% in 2014/15). This is testament to the resilience of a sector which has accommodated rising student-numbers while staff numbers and budgets have been cut substantially. However, while almost 34,000 students do make the transition from first to second year, the fact remains that over 6,200 students did not progress.
Progression rates varied across sectors ranging from 74% and 73% at levels 6 and 7 respectively compared to 89%, 84% and 94% at level 8 in universities, institutes of technology and colleges respectively.

The study also found that, among socio-economic groups, the lowest rate of non-progression was among those from farming family backgrounds at 9%. As was the case in previous reports, females are more likely than males to progress for most National Framework of Qualification levels and across all sectors.

Below average progression rates are observed in the fields of Construction and Related, Services, Computer Science and Engineering. While Services and Computer Science have the lowest rates of progression at level 8, there is much variation between sectors (universities and institutes of technology) as well as between institutions within sectors. Improvements have been seen inComputer Science since last year’s analysis across all sectors at level 8, with progression rates increasing from 80% to 84% with a more pronounced increase noted in the institutes of technology (from 74% to 80%) than the universities (from 85% to 88%). Medicine has the lowest non-progression rate at 3%.
Dr Graham Love, CEO of the HEA welcomed improvements in the progression rates of Computer Science students.

He pointed out that
“Additional funding allocated to retention initiatives such as maths enabling courses, peer mentoring and additional tutorials for computer science students in their first year of study are having a positive impact and contributing to such improvements”

The report confirms that there is a significant relationship between prior educational attainment (based on CAO points) and progression rates. While the overall progression rate is 85%, this rises to 93% for students who obtained between 555 and 600 points. Further analysis has shown that although students attending institutes of technology are less likely to progress, compared to university students – once prior educational attainment is factored in, the difference diminishes substantially.

Dr. Love noted that
“While the figures are stable over time and comparable with competitor countries, lower progression rates in key skill shortage disciplines such as construction, computer science and engineering, where mathematics content is high, remains a source of concern.”

View the full report at

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European Youth Week 2017

European Youth WeekEuropean Youth Week is a celebration of the massive contribution young people make to Europe.  This year the slogan is ‘Shape it, move it, be it’ and the focus of the week is very much on Solidarity and the social commitment of young people.  In Ireland there are lots of exciting events being organised both by Léargas and the Eurodesk Ireland Network!  So check out what is happening in your area and celebrate European Youth Week from 1-7 May!

Léargas Regional European Youth Week Events

Local Youth Week events will be a chance to learn about funding opportunities under Erasmus+ with a special emphasis on European Voluntary Service.  These events will look at how we challenge prejudice and promote solidarity through the method of ‘Living Library’. Newcomers to Erasmus+  are especially welcome.  For further details on these regional events click on the links below:

Eurodesk Ireland Network European Youth Week Events

The Eurodesk Ireland Network have a range of inspiring events over the course of Youth Week. From Donegal to Cork you’ll find our Eurodesk Multipliers bringing young people together in solidarity and diversity.  Here are some examples of the types of events available:

To register for these events contact your local youth service!  For further details on European Youth Week visit and follow #youthweek on Twitter and Facebook.

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Legal Secretary Courses

legal secretary coursesLegal secretaries are responsible for administration and secretarial work and provide a supporting role towards other professional staff in the law profession. The duties involved in this role can include telephone answering, dealing with clients and members of the public, organising correspondence and administrative tasks such as making appointments on behalf of solicitors and other legal executives.

Typing skills and  a degree of computer proficiency are necessary as the role includes the production of legal documents and letters. This may be done from a draft, or by audio typing from a tape of recorded dictation.

Legal secretaries are responsible for the preparation of records of legal costs and therefore need an understanding of accounting, finance and business practice.

Legal secretaries also prepare and proof read documents such as leases, contracts, wills and property conveyances, the transfer of property from one owner to another using legal documents. They therefore need to develop a knowledge of law, including criminal law, conveyancing and family law, and must understand how the courts apply the law in particular situations.

Jobs in this profession are highly valued and well paid as the reliance lawyers place on their specialist secretarial support is enormous.


The Pitman Training Diploma will give you the skills required for this career– from typing skills (speed and audio); to total mastery of the most common business software; to business communication techniques. Choose from a range of Legal modules such as Conveyancing, Wills & Probate, Civil Litigation, Company and Family Law.

Pitman Training Ireland

Pitman Training Swords

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Chinese Courses – Learning Chinese

learn chineseLearning Chinese – the difficulties and the benefits.

Would you consider learning a language, if it meant improving your job prospects nationally, internationally and globally? Would you consider learning a new language, if it made you one of the the 1.3 billion who speak it today (one fifth of the world’s population)? Would you consider learning Chinese 中文?

At a recent Global Irish Economic Forum, it was asked: should we be embracing the Chinese language?

It was highlighted by a business representative in the forum that Irish people should be learning Chinese to equip us to fully embrace the possibilities for trade with the surging Asian economy.

However, one government official was not sure, he highlighted some concerns, including the fact that it is a very difficult language to learn. ‘It is not as simple as learning a language with Celtic roots’, he said, concluding that while it might be easy enough to grasp a conversational level of spoken Chinese, it would take years to learn Chinese writing. He said that it was up to schools what secondary languages they decide to teach.

Despite these difficulties there is no doubting the importance and relevance of the Chinese language in the world today. It is the official language in the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore amongst others. It is also one of the six official languages of the UN. Modern economies will be looking to supply many services to the Chinese over the next few decades – making it a major language of the future. After-all there are now more Chinese people on-line than Americans! Economic forecasters believe that those countries that embrace this amazing language will have a big economic edge.

How difficult is it?

Yes, it can be difficult for westerners and even Chinese people admit how difficult it can be to learn (and they are proud of this, by the way!) I have heard words like ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘heart-breaking to learn’ used by those who have undertaken classes. They also say, like many others: it really is ‘a beautiful language’.

Let’s break it down:

• The writing system is beautiful to look at and intriguing but completely different to what most of us are used to.

• A huge number of the characters have to be learnt off. Some say there are over 50,000 but you could get by on 2,000!

• Within the Chinese writing system there are two sets of characters: the traditional and the simplified characters adapted by those in the People’s Republic of China.

• The writing system is not phonetic. You can’t spell it out phonetically. It must be learnt off. In other words, the sound does not help you write it. The good news is that the Chinese do have a way of writing how a character should be pronounced. This is pin-yin, like a phonetic alphabet.

• You have to ‘learn’ how to learn Chinese!

art classes

Chinese Courses:

If you like languages, like a challenge, and seriously want to up-skill your curriculum vitae; you can avail of a number of different courses:

The UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland is a joint venture between the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), Renmin University of China and UCD. The institute offers a range of evening courses, one-to-one tuition and full time Chinese courses in 2 locations in Dublin. More information can be viewed on their website

Sandford Languages Institute run a twelve week Chinese course in the evening. It is for absolute beginners.

In UCC an honours degree in International Commerce with Chinese Studies is an option for third level & mature students. Whilst in DIT, a similar course is called Chinese with International Business. Both these courses recognise that as China emerges as a superpower in the world of International trade, it is increasingly important for Ireland to have home-grown graduates fluent in Chinese and familiar with Chinese culture and business.

You might be thinking that since the Chinese are putting huge emphasis on learning English; we’ll just let them do the talking instead when it comes to business! however, having some knowledge of the language may give an edge and will no doubt impress, also it may make you smarter! Scientists have shown that those who speak Chinese have significant greater density of grey and white matter, including those who even try learn it. So if your brain is up to the challenge..


Chinese and other language courses are listed at

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Foreign Language Teaching to be Prioritised

languagesIreland should benchmark ourselves against the best English-speaking country in the world for foreign languages and aim to emulate that performance within a decade, the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD said at the TUI conference in Cork recently.

Minister Bruton also said that we should aim to be within the top ten in Europe in this area. The Minister was speaking ahead of the publication of his Department’s ten year strategy for foreign languages, a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education. The plan acknowledges that in general, Ireland, in common with other English-speaking countries, has not, prioritised learning of foreign languages when compared to other countries, tending to regard English as a common international language of communication.
However in the context of Brexit, the increasing global importance of the non-Western countries, and our diversifying markets for exports, these assumptions will no longer hold true.

The Strategy acknowledges that this will require a very significant change of mind set about language learning. It will also take time, commitment and additional resources. However this area must be a major priority. However it also acknowledges that we have major assets to build on. Teaching of Irish means that, unlike many other countries, children become familiar with bilingualism from age 4 and start to learn second language skills early. We now have strong communities of new Irish people who have brought language skills from hundreds of countries around the world.

Outside of the headline ambitions, other targets to be delivered as part of the Strategy include:

  • All Junior Cycle students will study a foreign language by 2021
  • A 10% increase in the number of Leaving Certificate students taking foreign language subjects, with a particular focus on diversifying the number of languages studied in addition to French, – which is currently by far the most popular language
  • Increase of at least 50% in the number of students doing Erasmus, with further targets for improvement in the language proficiency of those coming back from Erasmus, and reductions in the numbers doing Erasmus course through English
  • We will aim to support 20% of the entire higher education cohort to study a foreign language, as part of their course. And we will put a particular focus on increasing the uptake of those studying courses relevant to international business and ICT. Competence in languages can be particularly relevant for career progression and is also vital for Ireland’s export sector

Among the measures contained in the Strategy to deliver on these targets are:

  • Additional foreign languages to be available at junior cycle
  • Introduction of Mandarin Chinese as a Leaving Certificate curricular subject. Together with other measures, this will mean that all of our main target languages in our export strategies will now be provided as curricular leaving cert subjects
  • Double the number of schools offering more than two foreign languages as part of Transition Year programmes
  • Measures to develop and build on the heritage language skills of immigrant communities:
  • Curricular specifications at Leaving Certificate, starting with Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese as heritage languages with accompanying Leaving Certificate examinations. These specifications would replace the existing Leaving Certificate non-curricular examinations in these languages.
  • Consideration of the development of additional Junior Cycle Short Courses for heritage languages, mindful of the fact that a short course in Polish already exists
  • New models of delivering language teaching, such as shared classes and blended learning. This will allow students who are part of small immigrant communities, within specific schools, to develop their heritage language skills.
  • The Department of Education and Skills and the Teaching Council will address the complex issues involved in registering teachers of these languages.
  • The Department will work with embassies of relevant countries in delivering on these commitments.

Primary Education:

  • Exploring the possibilities of using CLIL (content and language integrated learning) techniques by teaching aspects of the primary curriculum through Irish and foreign languages which will equip learners with transferrable language skills. Research shows that teaching languages as a means of communication in this way, rather than as an academic subject to be learned in isolation, can be very effective
  • The NCCA, as part of its current review of the Primary School Curriculum will be asked to give consideration to including foreign languages in the senior classes.

Teacher Supply:

  • There may be post-primary teachers in the system who are qualified to teach a range of foreign languages but are currently not doing so. Following an audit, if this is found to be the case, then schools, especially their principals and the qualified language teachers, need to be encouraged and supported with dedicated CPD, to diversify the range of languages on offer. Clustering initiatives will be examined in this area.
  • Initial Professional Masters in Education programmes for students wishing to graduate as language teachers should agree on minimum Common European Framework of Reference for languages proficiency at both entry and exit points
  • Teachers/ lecturers throughout their career should be given CPD opportunities to enable them to enhance their language skills and teaching quality and to engage in innovative pedagogical practice. Such CPD opportunities are currently being provided by the Junior Cycle for Teachers, Professional Development Service, for foreign language teachers as the new Modern Languages specification is being rolled out at Junior Cycle this September (2017).

Other Areas:

  • The International Education Strategy for Ireland (2016 -2020) provides for the extension of the stay back period from 12 to 24 months for post-graduates. This opportunity will result in more eligible post-graduates, who have studied in Irish higher education institutions, and whose award is granted by a recognised Irish awarding body, at Masters or PhD level, to remain in Ireland for two years to seek employment.
  • Greater use of existing programmes is needed for Foreign Language Assistants, both coming to, and going from Ireland to countries where their foreign language is the spoken language
  • Develop a benchmark standard against which our performance in languages at all levels can be measured, against ourselves and against other countries, and for objective target-setting. To this end, we will mainstream use of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
  • A languages advisory group is to be established under the auspices of the National Skills Council to oversee implementation; membership to comprise representatives of primary, post primary, academic experts and industry.

Speaking ahead of his address at the TUI conference, Minister Bruton said:
“The central aim of our Action Plan for Education is to provide the best education and training system in Europe over the next decade. A central part of this is our ability to support our students with the skills to be global citizens, to understand other cultures and societies, as well as the skills to function and thrive in the modern economy. The world is changing rapidly and we must plan through our education system for that changing world. Assumptions that held true even a couple of years ago about the place of English as the international language of communication are no longer solid. In the context of Brexit, the rise of the non-Western powers, the challenges of integrating new communities and our increasingly diversified export strategies, we must change the way we think about language learning in Ireland.”

“Ensuring that we continue to provide high-quality language learning and promoting competence in both of our official languages, Irish and English, is a very important objective of Government. However we must also target a step-change in the learning of foreign languages in Ireland. That is why I believe we should benchmark ourselves against the best English-speaking country in the world at learning foreign languages and seek to emulate that performance within a decade, and also top ten position overall within Europe in this area. In the context of Brexit and a changing world this must be a major priority.
Teaching of Irish means that, unlike many other countries, children become familiar with bilingualism from age 4 and start to learn second language skills early. We now have strong communities of new Irish people bringing language skills from hundreds of countries around the world. And as a people we have a natural curiosity in other cultures and societies.”

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Web Design Courses

web design coursesTwenty years ago, the majority of businesses didn’t have a website, now it’s rare that a business does not have an online presence. Our growing reliance on the internet has changed the way we communicate, spend money, even educate ourselves to the extent that careers involving the internet aren’t just growing, they are on the front line of technological and societal change.

Web design is a crucial component in a person’s experience on the internet. A webpage only has a few seconds to impress and keep a customer. Ensuring the page looks good and operates well is one of the most important components of online business. And as the internet becomes increasingly important for communication and business, job prospects for web designers are also rising.

Competition is rife and training is essential. Web designers need to be creative and technical, artistic and business-orientated. Strategic and design skills such as marketing and graphic art in addition to technical knowledge like database administration and programming in flash and html are all e

It may be a competitive career but the benefits and opportunities are excellent, with an increasing demand for talented designers. Generally, the more expertise and specific training the higher the salary is. There are opportunities for talented web designers all over the world or you can stay in your pyjamas, if you’d rather freelance.

Training courses are open to anyone who is interested in learning more about this field, regardless if they continue towards a career in web design or not. Further Education and Private Colleges offer introductions to web design, upskilling, and specialty training. In addition, there are third level part-time evening courses, which over three or four years offer in-depth degree study. The College of Management and IT (CMIT) offers distance learning training in both Introduction to Web Design and Advanced Web Design. Both are certified at QQI Level 5 and Level 6. The course is completed over a six-month period and may commence at any time of year. CMIT also offers Webmaster and Ecommerce Consultant training.

The web design course offered by Pitman Training focuses on Business IT specifically. The training concentrates on design and database skills with HTML programming, Dreamweaver, and the Microsoft Office Suite, including Microsoft Access. The course is for 9 weeks (at approximately 20 hours per week of study) or 180 hours flexi-study.

Web Design training offers a solid and practical education that can lead to a fulfilling, rewarding, and dynamic career. To see a range of courses related to Web design and other computer training courses, why not have a look at our section on IT Training and Computer courses

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Becoming a Midwife

midwife coursesMid-wifery is one of those careers that requires a holistic way of being, that is conducive to bringing a new-born into the world. Apart from the formal qualifications required; being completely caring, have a willingness to help other people, calm and kind are the essential pre-requisites to becoming a mid-wife. The term midwife means to be ‘with woman’ and your role is to be with a mother as she gives birth. Midwifery care is underpinned by a philosophical approach that views pregnancy as part of the life cycle, a normal healthy event. According to the Irish Nursing Board, the concept of partnership between the woman and the midwife is fundamental to midwifery practice and is based on mutual trust, support and collaboration. Midwives work in partnership with obstetricians and other members of the healthcare team in the provision of care, particularly to women with complicated pregnancies.

Therefore, a midwife is a trained professional with special expertise in supporting women to maintain a healthy pregnancy birth, offering expert individualized care, education, counselling and support to a woman and her new-born throughout the childbearing cycle. A midwife works with each woman and her family to identify their unique physical, social and emotional needs. When the care required is outside the midwife’s scope of practice or expertise, the woman is referred to other health care providers for additional consultation or care.

A midwife is assigned a range of specific tasks and duties that include assisting the mother in the birth of her child to the job of introducing the new member of the family. Any given day in the life of a midwife includes: assisting maternal patients to find physical positions that will facilitate childbirth, monitoring maternal condition during labour by checking vital signs, monitoring uterine contractions, or performing physical examinations, providing comfort and relaxation measures for mothers in labour through interventions such as massage, breathing techniques, hydrotherapy, and music.

The midwife is also responsible for setting up or monitoring the administration of oxygen or medications, assessing birthing environments to ensure cleanliness, safety, and the availability of appropriate supplies, assessing the status of post-date pregnancies to determine treatments and interventions, collecting specimens for use in laboratory tests, conducting on-going prenatal health assessments, tracking changes in physical and emotional health, developing/implementing or evaluating individualised plans for midwifery care and finally, establishing and following emergency or contingency plans for mothers and new-borns.

midwife courses in Ireland

There are a number of HEIs offering the direct entry pre-registration programme into midwifery (open to mature applicants, fetac and standard applicants). The Bachelor of Midwifery, Science degree at NUIG is an example of one of the four-year degree programmes. Following successful completion of this programme, students are eligible to apply to register as a midwife with An Bord Altranais. Their programme consists of 24 theoretical modules and 8 clinical modules.

The syllabus for the pre-registration Honours Degree programme contains the following:
• 67% of the theoretical content is the art and science of nursing care
• 33% of the theoretical content is devoted to the applied biological and social sciences (including psychology, sociology, philosophy and ethics)There are also clinical placements to cover all aspects of the role of a midwife. These include: Antenatal, Intra-natal, Postnatal and Specialist placements.

As a mature applicant, you must be successful at the NCC (Nursing Careers Centre) written assessment before being considered for an offer as a mature code applicant. However, success at the written assessment does not guarantee an offer of a place. The written assessment contains a skills/experience questionnaire, a verbal test, a numerical test and job simulation exercise. Mature applicants also apply through the CAO. Most HEIs offering the midwifery programme do recognise certain FETAC qualifications for entry to this pre-registration course. It is important to consult with the individual HEIs to discuss their requirements whether you are a mature/fetac/standard applicant.

Whilst you can go directly into a midwifery programme at a Higher Education Institute, you can become qualified as a nurse first and then progress onto a post-registration midwifery course.

Like every other career path that you might be considering, do your homework and find out what being a midwife really means. Get some practical experience if you can. For example, some people work voluntarily as a healthcare assistant to see how they feel about working in this type of environment. Attending open days at the relevant universities are important. Here you will get a real feel for what the course is like on a day to day basis. You can also meet the lecturers which can be really useful. Even better, try arrange a meeting with a practicing mid-wife, who could assist you with all your questions and concerns. And, yes, men can become midwifes too!

For further information, contact An Bord Altranais (The Irish Nursing Board).

To see midwife and nursing courses on view the Medical and Healthcare courses category at

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SUSI Grant Process 2018

SUSI third level grantsSUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland). is now open for applications for the 2018 academic year. Students are being encouraged to get their application in as early as possible and to be sure to have all correct information and documentation attached. Below is some further information and videos on making a grant application through SUSI.

Tips for Applicants

  • Make your application as early as possible after the opening date.
  • Make sure the information you supply in relation to dates of birth, PPS numbers, etc. is correct, to avoid delays in the processing of your application.
  • Supply the documentation requested of you, correctly first time and on time.
  • Use the application tracker in your online account to check the progress of your submitted application at any stage.

Applications are made through the grants online application system available on the SUSI website ( You must have an online account with SUSI before you can make your grant application.

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Benefits of Microsoft MTA Certification

microdoft mta trainingFor those who are considering entering into an IT career and need to learn the basics; gaining MTA certification can be highly beneficial.

According to Microsoft, 86% of managers state that IT certifications are important when they are considering candidates and 91% say that a certification is essential when they are hiring. Microsoft state that 64% of managers thought that certifications had high value when it came to validating the skills of job candidates and that certification, experience and training were some of the most important characteristics when selecting a employee. Perhaps the best news of all is that in a survey of nearly 700 IT professionals, 60% stated that getting a certification led to them securing a new job.

An MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) certification supplies the expertise and knowledge needed for a specific technology or product and is the recommended starting point for the Microsoft certifications. It provides a solid foundation and with just one exam you earn a certification that will allow you to take your first step towards a career in IT.

An MTA also works well for those who have some basic knowledge and may want to refresh or focus on a specific area. Depending on your interests and career goals you can do an MTA on a variety of topics. Doing an MTA gives you the necessary knowledge for moving on to do an MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) or MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) certification and when you successfully complete an MTA you become a member of the Microsoft Certified Professional community (MCP) which allows you members only benefits such as special offers and a private groups where you can network and connect with others on the same career path.

An MTA certification never expires and exams can be taken a training centre near you. Pitman Training Centres all over the country are offering MTA certifications, with trainings available in Carlow, Dublin, Cork, Louth, Galway, Limerick, Westmeath, Kildare, Sligo, Kerry and Wexford. The courses range in topics from an MTA in Security Fundamentals, MTA Networking Fundamentals, MTA Server Administration Fundamentals to MTA Windows Server 2008. All are run on a flexible study basis and are open to those looking for a basic understanding of key concepts.

In a time where finding employment is tough, why not get ahead of the competition and do something that will make you stand out. An MTA certification will add that extra touch of professionalism to your CV and by completing a certification that is voluntary, you are showing future employers that you are motivated, driven and dedicated. When you complete your MTA and become a member of the Microsoft Certified Professional Community you will also have the opportunity to browse a list of job opportunities around the world, specifically filtered for MCPs.

For those hoping to improve employability, having a world recognized qualification could be key to raising your profile. So impress future employees and feel confident when you go to your next interview knowing that you have a certification and the skills that will enable a successful IT career.

Click Here to Find MTA Training Courses on

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Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship 2017

Insurance ApprenticeshipResearch recently released by The Insurance Institute, found that 62% of young adults surveyed stated that they would consider an apprenticeship, as an alternative to going to college, if it was in an area that interested them. Findings also showed that just over half of parents (55%) would encourage their child to undertake an apprenticeship. The research was released today to launch the 2017 Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, Ireland’s only level 8-degree apprenticeship, which will have over 100 places available nationwide in the coming weeks. This ‘earn and learn’, three year programme, enables apprentices to work for an insurance employer, earn a salary, while also studying for a BA Hons in Insurance Practice.

The research, commissioned by The Insurance Institute and undertaken by Empathy Research, surveyed 309 young adults (18-34) and 410 parents (of dependent children, under 18) to ascertain their perceptions of apprenticeships, as well as their considerations in relation to college/third level education and career choices. Most (77%) young adults agreed that college isn’t for everyone and 76% of young adults agreed that the opportunity to earn a salary while also studying in their chosen field would strongly appeal to them. Only 11% of young adults and 11% (1 in 10) of parents surveyed believe there are enough apprenticeships offered in areas of interest in Ireland, with the majority feeling that there are not.

The research also discovered that for young adults, their main concern in relation to third level education is the cost and affordability, with 58% citing it as a worry, and 52% stating that the prospect of securing a job when they finish is a key concern. Similarly, 65% of parents are also concerned about their children’s chances of getting a job when they complete third level education, and 57% of parents said the cost and affordability of college is a worry for them.

Commenting on the launch, as well as the findings of the research, Sandra Harvey Graham, Apprenticeship Programme Manager, The Insurance Institute, said, “We’re delighted to be launching our 2017 Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, with over 100 places becoming available within the next few weeks and successful applicants beginning their apprenticeship in September. The programme is only in its second year, but has been a game changer as it offers young people a real alternative to college, while also providing local jobs, to local people throughout the country.”

“As our research shows, cost and the potential to secure a job are concerns for parents and students when it comes to third level education. The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is within an established and well represented industry, with 28,000 people working in insurance across Ireland. The programme is also Government funded, so students only pay €600 in registration fees annually. This makes it very affordable for potential candidates to kick start their career in a global and dynamic industry, where they will benefit from exceptional on the job experience, all whilst advancing their skills and working towards a Degree.”

Ms Graham continued, “For those interested in the September 2017 programme, they should register their interest from today on Those registered will be the first to know when the 100 apprenticeships become available over the next few weeks, and they will also benefit from an extensive library of content helping them to get ahead of the game when it comes to applying.”

Additional key research findings included:

  • When asked if they were aware of the Government’s strategy (which is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Education) 12% of young adults (aged 18-34) and 13% of parents said they were. 77% of young adults believe the Government’s strategy would be beneficial to young people in Ireland, with parent’s feeling the same way (78%);
  • Getting a degree is cited by almost half (49%) of under 34’s and just over half (53%) of parents as the best way of ensuring a successful working career;
  • Parents (35%), friends (31%) and guidance counsellors/teachers in school (26%) are the key ports of call for young adults when it comes to talking about choosing a career or changing jobs;
  • Just 24% of those aged 18-34 claim that they found the career guidance they received in school useful, with almost two thirds (63%) rating it as not useful;
  • 16% of young adults said they considered an apprenticeship when then were finishing their secondary school education. Key reasons for not considering an apprenticeship included the desire to go to college and get a degree/diploma (58%), with almost a quarter (23%) claiming not to know enough about apprenticeships;
  • Just under half (46%) of young adults surveyed, agree that they would be happy working in the area they are currently working for the rest of their working life.

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship was first launched in September 2016, and was Ireland’s first, earn and learn honours degree programme. The Government funded apprenticeship is run in partnership with IT Sligo, and apprentices complete the degree portion online through distance learning over three years. The minimum entry requirements include two honours in higher level subjects in the Leaving Cert and a pass in four additional subjects including English/Irish and Maths. Alternatively, if applicants are over 23, interviews or other selection tools may be used.

For more information on the programme or to register your interest please visit

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