All Aboard 2017

all aboard 2017

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What is All Aboard 2017?

An initiative being co-run by The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and Ireland’s higher education institutions, All Aboard 2017 is a week-long (3-7 April 2017) series of national and regional public events designed to build confidence in Ireland’s digital skills for learning.

Who Can Participate in All Aboard 2017?

Anybody with an interest in developing their digital skills for learning- regardless of skill level – is invited to come on board All Aboard 2017.
The entire education sector – universities, institutes of technology, private colleges, further education and training colleges, adult literacy centres and every secondary and primary school in the country are a key target audience of the initiative. In addition, we have also mapped out a five-day itinerary for communities and parents who can get involved in e.g., our internet safety awareness drive -while as many people as possible from local businesses are being encouraged to get their companies and colleagues on board.

What’s On Offer?

National and regional events including fun activities, workshops, competitions, challenges, experiments, public lectures and much more are all designed to help build confidence in our digital skills for learning are on offer. Check out our Events section for the latest events listing in your area.

What’s the Background to All Aboard 2017?

All Aboard 2017 is based on The National Forum’s report “Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: A Roadmap for Enhancement in a Digital World 2015:2017” which made a key recommendation for ‘A co-ordinated, multi-level approach to foster digital literacy, skills and confidence among students at all levels of education…”. To access copy of the report click here. The initiative will build on the All Aboard Digital Skills Framework funded under the government’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement fund 2014 (

Click Here to View All Aboard 2017 Events

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Training for the Civil Service

civil service training optionsIn 2014, Pascal Donohoe, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, encouraged graduates to consider a career in the EU civil service as he launched the EU annual graduate recruitment competition. The minister described a civil service career in the EU as an exciting and challenging opportunity and encouraged graduates to apply, stating that Irish candidates are highly sought after.

An EU position is one of many options to consider when it comes to a career in the civil service. There is no typical career path as the diverse range of roles, jobs and departments means that there is the opportunity to pursue a career that is best suited to the person’s own interests and strengths. Jobs can be based in an office, outdoors with groups of visitors or involve lots of meetings with clients. There are also opportunities to move internally within the public service and this can lead to increased responsibilities and earning potential.

To work in the civil service a candidate must have a first or second class honours degree and for EU positions, good communicative competence in an additional European language is also essential.  Specific skills needed are dependent on each area but general skills, such as problem solving, teamwork and good written and verbal communication skills, are needed across the board.

The main types of civil service jobs include a Clerical Officer, Executive Officer, Administrative Officer, Third Secretary/ Diplomat, as well as other professional and specialist roles including engineers, nurses, gardaí, psychologists, legal staff and scientists.

A Clerical Officer is often the first step in a career in the civil service. Clerical Officers work in all departments and provide a range of office duties. For graduates seeking this position, an administration course may be a good option. An Executive Officer, follows on from a Clerical Officer position and is a management role that includes project management and staff management. You can view some administration courses on offer on at the following link –

The next level is an Administrative Officer and this involves policy formation through research and critical analysis and can also involve drafting material for Ministers. This role is a great opportunity for honours graduates to begin working in the civil service. Another excellent position for graduates is the Third Secretary/ Junior Diplomat who initially work in the Department of Foreign affairs and before moving to an Irish Embassy or consulate.

The Public Appointments Service is the centralised recruitment provider for jobs in the civil service. The website is the main access route for those interested in a job in the public sector and candidates can access a list of positions available, the qualifications required and job details.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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Cork Lifelong Learning Festival – April 2017

Cork Lifelong Learning FestivalMonday April 3 to Sunday April 9, 2017
Cork’s Lifelong Learning Festival promotes and celebrates learning of all kinds across all age groups, abilities and interests, from preschool to post retirement.

The festival’s motto is Investigate – Participate – Celebrate!
Its aims are:

  • to celebrate those already participating in learning of all kinds;
  • to raise awareness of the huge range of options there are all over the city for others to get involved in learning.

Through a huge number of events, all free, the festival demonstrates the many opportunities for learning there are throughout Cork City & surrounding areas. It promotes the idea that learning is fun and is not necessarily about gaining a qualification, although it can be, but is also about making life more fulfilling and enjoyable.

More than 600 events of all kinds and all free will be offered during festival week in 2017. They include workshops & talks, tours & walks, visits to factories, training centres, boat trips, exhibitions, performances, outdoor & indoor activities … the list goes on.
The festival is organised by a steering committee which brings together all the learning stakeholders in the city. It’s part of the City Council’s strategy of making Cork a City of Learning.

Its success was recognised by UNESCO when Cork was one of the first 12 cities in the world to receive a Learning City Award in 2015.
Cork has been chosen by UNESCO to host its 3rd International Conference of Learning Cities in September this year. Quite a coup for such a small city – as the previous conferences were held in Beijing & Mexico City.
Programmes for the 14th festival are available at

Daily Programme information:

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Oracle Certification

oracle coursesOracle has been leading the development of database software for over thirty years and has changed the face of business computing. Oracle certifications are highly regarded for their standards of excellence and expertise within the IT industry and at a time when the demand for IT professionals is high and the competition for jobs is strong; now is a perfect time to consider a certification that will provide an advantage.

Employers are looking for candidates with a strong skill set and knowledge of their field that will allow them to perform their best and benefit a company. With an Oracle certification, a candidate shows that they have a high standard of training that is industry recognised. The facts and figures speak for themselves; in an OCP survey of the thousands of certified members 97% reported that they had benefited from the certification, 96% said that they would recommend the programme to a colleague and 89% reported that they gained confidence in their expertise after their certification.

From an employer’s perspective the results are positive too; according to a study carried out by International Data Corporation, employees who had gained a certification handled 40% more calls than non-certified staff, companies who encouraged certification reported 49% less downtime and most of the companies surveyed reported that the savings from increased employee effectiveness paid for the certification fees in under 9 months.

Oracle offer a wide range of courses and in five different formats: classroom training, live virtual class, training on demand, self study courses and private events. Both Dorset College, Dublin and Griffin College, based nationwide, offer Oracle certifications in Ireland.

Dorset College offers classroom based courses such as an Oracle Certified Associate Java SE 6 course, covering the fundamentals of Java Programming Language, which is suitable for beginners to programming and taught on an evening part-time basis. An Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 7 Programmer course is also suitable for beginners to Java programming and taught on a part-time evening basis. For those with some basic knowledge and experience there is an Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 6 Programmer course and an Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Associate course available on a part-time evening basis.

Griffin College offers a distance learning Oracle 10g PL/ SQL Course which is delivered through 3 DVDs of instructor led sessions and includes printable course work and live mentoring. The course is designed to provide the student with tools to tackle real-life business problems and is suitable for those who want to study on their own time. It is important to note that in this course, a student does not receive an Oracle certification until they have successfully completed an online examination.

View oracle Courses on –

For more information about Oracle Certifications visit the website:

Fiona McBennett

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Limerick Youth Service Training Centre Receives Award

Limerick Community Training CentreLimerick Youth Service Community Training Centre has received a specially-commissioned award from the Minister for Education for its achievements on behalf of young people.

For the past four decades, Community Training Centres nationwide have been providing second-chance education to early school leavers, with over 100,000 young people supported in making the transition to work or further education.

Fiona O’Grady, Chair of Limerick Youth Service Community Training Centre, said,”From the beginning, Community Training Centres had, in general, three significant characteristics which they still retain today. Firstly, we are firmly rooted in our local community. Secondly, programmes are based on experiential learning with recognised qualifications. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the programme is focused on individual learner needs.”

“For many young people, when they first came through our doors they had reached a point where life’s possibilities had seemed out of reach. Some had come to feel excluded from areas of life that give us all a sense of meaning and belonging, both in our communities and in the workplace. It has been our greatest honour to be able to support so many young people in developing their skills and nurturing their talents in order to reach their full potential.””

Commenting on the 40th anniversary celebrations of Community Training Centres across the country, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, said: “Returning to education and supporting lifelong learning are a key priority for this Government and over the lifetime of the National Skills Strategy to 2025 we aim to more than double current participation rates. For an early school leaver, the decision to return to education in a Community Training Centre offers a life-changing opportunity to re-engage in learning, to develop personal and in-demand skills, and to progress to further and higher education and to rewarding career opportunities.”

Credit: Simon Bourke –

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Nursing – The Routes and Requirements

nursing coursesThere are a number of different nursing routes available when becoming a registered nurse. These are: Children’s and General Nursing (Integrated), General Nursing, Intellectual Disability Nursing, Midwifery, and Psychiatric Nursing. An Bord Altranais (the Nursing Board) is the statutory regulatory body for the nursing/midwifery profession in Ireland and it is this board that is responsible for registration of those who have successfully completed a recognised educational nursing programme.

The World Health Organisation states: The mission of nursing in society is to help individuals, families and groups to determine and achieve physical, mental and social potential. An Bord Altranais considers that the following values should underpin nursing practice: respect towards the uniqueness and dignity of each client regardless of culture and religion, trust, understanding and compassion.

There are 44 nursing/midwifery programmes in total, with over 1500 places available at pre-registration level. A number of places are reserved for mature applications and further education applicants. Each nursing/midwifery programme has two identifying course codes: Standard Code (for applicants applying based on their examination results) and a Mature Code (for applicants who are 23 years of age or over, and who wish to be to be considered for a place on grounds of mature years rather than examination results). Application is made through the CAO for both Codes.

Throughout the nursing programme, the student receives a combination of theoretical and clinical instruction. The first clinical placement occurs early in the programme, usually within three months of commencement. The theoretical component of the honours degree programmes consists of: 67% focuses on the art and science of nursing care, and 33% of the theoretical content, is devoted to the applied biological and social sciences; which are the science subjects that are taught as they apply to and inform nursing care.
nursing places Ireland
Entry Requirements:
There are minimum entry requirements which usually include: C3 in two higher papers and a minimum grade of D3 in four other papers (honours or ordinary). A Laboratory Science subject must be one of these subjects, along with English or Irish and Maths. Individual Higher Education Institutes might have other specific requirements so it is important to consult with them.

Most of the HEIs offering degree programmes in nursing/midwifery consider specific QQI qualifications as an equivalent entry route for standard code applications. In other words, your QQI qualification is converted into points to compete with other examination students. The best 8 modules are considered for scoring purposes.

QQI Level 5 courses considered for entry include:
DCHSN Nursing Studies
DCHSX Community and Health Services
DHSXX Healthcare Support
(Please note that distinctions will be required in certain modules for entry purposes.)
Mature applicants who pass the written assessment (for mature applicants only) are placed on the list for each mature course code for which he/she has applied. The overall score for the written assessment determines their position on the order of merit list for the courses they have applied for. The written assessment has four separate sections: skills/experience questionnaire, a verbal test, numerical test, and a job simulation exercise.

Further Studies: After the completion of a pre-registered programme in nursing/midwifery, graduates might wish to pursue further education in the sector. Many such opportunities are available, and An Bord Altranais has approved a number of specialist programmes. They include: Children’s Nursing, Midwifery, Nurse Tutor, Public Health Nursing, Nurse Prescriber, Advanced Nurse Practitioner and Advanced Midwife Practitioner.

Sample Courses

Certificate in Nursing Studies from Portobello Institute. This course is designed as a programme of preparatory study to enter a degree programme in Nursing Studies. Students undertaking this course can apply for a training position in General Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing, Intellectual Disability Nursing and Children’s Nursing. The course introduces the Student to the caring role of the nurse and emphasises the importance of interpersonal communication. The course equips students with the skills and knowledge to care for patients in a safe and hygienic environment. Students learn the basic principles of infection control and are taught to apply standard precautions in relation to infection control. They learn the structure and function of the human body and gain an understanding of the interrelationship between the systems of the body. They study the levels of personal development to understand the concepts of mental age and chronological age in order to be able to relate to people at a level appropriate to their needs. This course qualifies students to work as a care assistant in the areas such as: Nursing homes and Hospitals.

For Mature Code applicants, the Written Assessment Test for nursing is competitive. Kilroy’s College offer a home study course to learn the skills you need to be successful in the competitive written test.

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology offer CAO applicants a General Nursing programme. This degree will help you understand the needs of people who are in the care of nurses. It will also give you a sense of how nursing works, as well as the personal and professional qualities that are associated with effective nursing practice. You will learn why people are nursed in particular ways and how to deliver the nursing care that is required. Your academic learning and practical learning will go hand in hand and you will be encouraged to reflect on your experiences as you progress through the course. First year Modules include: Biological and Related Sciences, Social Sciences, Fundamental Nursing Practice, Personal and Professional Development, Health Promotion & Research Studies, Clinical Practice Placement and Computer Applications.

The B.Sc. Nursing (General) is a full-time four year degree programme offered by the Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Limerick in conjunction with the Health Service Executive West (Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary). On successful completion of the programme students will be able to present for registration with An Bord Altranais and practise as a Registered General Nurse (R.G.N.). The course is designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to become confident, analytical and reflective practitioners who are able to make maximum use of resources including research in their day to day practice. The overall aim of the programme is to facilitate the development of an individual who is able to practice nursing based on a sound knowledge and understanding of factors affecting the health and wellbeing of those who require care. This knowledge will be acquired through the study of nursing, biological sciences, social sciences and related disciplines.

Children’s and General Nursing (Integrated) from UCC is a four and a half year programme. The School of Nursing and Midwifery in Cork promotes personal, professional and academic development through the provision of college and practice-based learning. The aim of the programme is to foster the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and professional values applicable to nursing children and adults. Like all relevant HEI courses, on successful completion, a graduate is eligible to apply for a professional registration in children‚ as well as general nursing (RGN, RCN) with An Bord Altranais along with being awarded an NUI degree (if applicable).

Many of the nursing course literature emphasises the need for future Nurses to be caring individuals, who feel that they can contribute to the well-being of others with intelligence and enthusiasm. Regardless of points, if you don’t have the essential human characteristics required to be a nurse, it is futile to apply. If you do have them, you will do well in nursing.
It is a profession that calls for both intelligence and empathy; the latter being the ability to understand what another person is going through, and the ability to respond appropriately. Being empathetic makes a patient feel cared for and understood; it essentially defines this profession.

Find more health care and nursing courses by searching our Medical and Healthcare Courses section

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Computer Networking Courses

networking coursesThe number and range of opportunities for skilled graduates which exist in the Computing/IT sector in Ireland has been well documented. Employers in this sector are continually highlighting the difficulties they face in filling certain vacancies. Currently, in Ireland, opportunities are outgrowing supply. Most recruitment websites are testament to this.

If you wish to specialise in a specific area of Computing and IT, Networking is one viable option. In the world of computers, networking is the practice of linking two or more computing devices together for the purpose of sharing data. Networks are built with a mix of computer hardware and programming software.

Networks can be categorised in several different ways. One approach defines the type of network according to the geographic area it spans. Local area networks (LANs), for example, typically reach across a single home, whereas wide area networks (WANs), reach across cities, states, or even across the world. The Internet is the world’s largest public WAN.

Networks are a major component of ICT (Information & Communication Technology) communication. If Networking interests you, there are many courses of offer – both via private course providers and the CAO. Most courses provide learners with both the practical and theoretical knowledge of basic networks. Participants will learn about the different components used to create a network including hardware, software and topologies.

In terms of career prospects in this specialised area; many view computer networking as one of the best and ‘hottest’ career fields available today. Some claim that a serious shortage of qualified people to fill these networking jobs exists, and these claims are luring some people into the fray hoping for an easy position with a fast-growing company.
networking courses
Courses on offer:

Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) with CMIT – this is a Distance Learning course, so it is therefore ideal for somebody already working in the sector and who wishes to up-skill.

Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) validates the ability to install, operate and troubleshoot a small enterprise branch network, including basic network security. The curriculum covers networking fundamentals, WAN technologies, basic security and wireless concepts, routing and switching fundamentals, and configuring simple networks. CCENT is the first step toward achieving CCNA, which covers medium size enterprise branch networks with more complex connections. This comprehensive e-learning course prepares students for the Cisco CCENT Certification. The course is completed online, at your own time, at a location that suits you. You progress through the course materials and complete the online lessons and tests.

Once you successfully pass the programme, you will receive a Diploma in Networking from CMIT. You may optionally take an exam to receive Cisco certification. This is assessed through a computer-based multiple choice exam (642-822).

Kilroys College run a Network+ – IT Skills Preparation course for the CompTIA A+ certification. This is also a Distance Learning course. If you are interested in becoming a Network administrator or PC Support Specialist, then this CompTIA sponsored Network+ course could be for you. It will help you prepare for the Network+ exam which will give any prospective employer proof that you possess the required technical knowledge and skills to support a network. It also gives you the perfect foundation to build on towards other IT qualifications. Leading technology companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Intel have identified Network+ as the perfect entry point into a networking career.

CMIT also run Windows Server Networking (MCTS) course. This is the official Microsoft Certification for Windows Server Networking 2008. This series will prepare you for the MCTS: Windows Networking exam. This exam is the only requirement to apply for the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Networking certification, and will also count toward the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Enterprise Administrator or Server Administrator. .

This comprehensive e-learning course prepares students for the Windows Server Networking 2008. This course will prepare you to monitor a Windows Server 2008 system, as well as configure IP addressing, name resolution, network access, and file and print services.

To receive full Microsoft Certification you must complete the Microsoft exam. This course is assessed through a computer-based multiple choice exam (MCTS 70-642) which may be sat when students have completed the course.

Cork Institute of Technology run a Computer – Networking & Security Postgraduate course (Level 9 NFQ). This course is designed to provide the graduate student with the advanced theoretical knowledge and skills in the interrelated areas of Computer Networking and Computer Security.

Mallow College of Further Education offer a Computer Networking & Maintenance course (Level 5). This full time course is ideal for students interested in computers and how they work. It is designed to give students the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to implement and support PC systems and networks. This course specifically prepares participants for careers in computer and network support.

Career prospects:

Several types of positions exist in Networking. The basic job titles one sees for computer networking and networking-related positions include:

• Network Administrator
• Network (Systems) Engineer
• Network (Service) Technician
• Network Programmer/Analyst
• Network/Information Systems Manager

Network administrators and managers in particular have grown fond of networking-based certifications like Microsoft MCSE and Cisco CCNA. Therefore, it is important to keep this in mind when pursuing a course in order to attain a particular position in a company or as a self-employed person in this growing industry.

View IT Training and Networking Courses on our Computer Courses Page

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Montessori Childcare Courses

montessori Childcare CoursesThe Montessori childcare method applies an educational approach to children based on the research and experiences of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952). It arose essentially from Dr. Montessori’s discovery of what she referred to as “the child’s true normal nature”. The teacher’s role of observation sometimes includes experimental interactions with children, commonly referred to as “lessons,” to resolve misbehavior or to show how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the environment for the children’s free use. The method is primarily applied with young children (2–6), due to the young child’s unique instincts and sensitivity to conditions in the environment.

The founder of this method of teaching was a lady called Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to graduate in medicine from the University of Rome. Maria worked with disabled and mentally challenged children in the early 1900s. In 1907, she opened the Casa dei Bambini, where she taught children of normal intelligence using her methods from her research in philosophy, child development and education. She spent most of her remaining life writing, lecturing and teaching about her methods.

montessori courses in Ireland

The benefits of a Montessori education are numerous. The main goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child oriented environment that children can explore, touch, and learn without fear. Each child learns at his or her own pace. Teachers are understanding and encouraging, so that the child can enjoy learning, and feel happy about her path and purpose in life. Here are some of the benefits:-

• Montessori schools teach independence from an early age. The children take an active part in running their school, like preparing and serving at the drinks break, and putting learning equipment away after they have used it. Practical tasks like sweeping, polishing, making sandwiches and tying shoe laces, are all available for children to learn on a daily basis.

• Children are not expected to conform to set standards of achievement as in conventional schools. The Montessori method takes account of the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child. The children learn at their own pace, so they are not being constrained nor criticised for what they do. There is a total freedom to learn which makes the learning fun.

• All children, whatever their abilities or interests, reach their full potential. All children fit in, including children with learning disabilities. Many children learn best in different ways, and the equipment is designed for this. For example, one piece of equipment is the sand alphabet – the letters of the alphabet in sand on card. The child traces over the sand letter with his/her finger, and then writes the letter on paper. For all subjects there are items of interest to the child. For example, for geography, not only are there books, but globes, map puzzles, pictures, and animal figures (sensory items). There are also regular visits from people, pets, animals, and different activities depending on the topic being taught.

• In a Montessori environment children are encouraged to respect and help each other. If they choose, they will work with other children, and help each other, or ‘teach’ each other, and they enjoy doing so.

• The environment of a Montessori school is peaceful and facilitates learning. Because children are happy and learning at their own pace, discipline is usually not an issue.

To find Montessori and Childcare courses in Ireland, view our Montessori Course Listings on

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Accounting Courses

accounting and payroll trainingWhether you want to balance your own books or launch an international fraud investigation, accountancy is among the most practical skills for everyday life and can also be an important and rewarding career.

Generally, accounting is the process in which the financial information of any organisation is communicated. Management accounting reports financial information to people involved with the day to day running of businesses in order to make management or operating decisions. Financial accounting provides information to people outside the business including information to shareholders, banks, and government agencies. Financial accounting is heavily regulated by both local and international accounting standards and laws.

All accountancy courses, regardless of level, will develop the quantitative, computational, and analytical skills required within this discipline. Introductory courses in accounting concentrate on the basic managerial and financial accounting concepts. For example, those offered at Community Schools such as the Old Bawn Community School focus predominantly on bookkeeping for either individuals or small businesses and include tracking debits and credits, balancing accounts, and tax office returns such as VAT, PAYE, and PRSI returns. Many private colleges also offer introductory courses.

Kilroy’s College offers a distance education diploma course for beginners in accounting and bookkeeping that focuses on practicalities such as understanding ledger accounts and business planning. Kilroy’s College also offer several courses that focus on accountancy for specific employment groups such as the self-employed and farmers.
Accounting courses in Dublin and around Ireland

The Portobello Institute in Dublin offers the ACCA Accounting Technician Certificate course that spans full-time over two years, includes one year of work experience, and culminates in the CAT qualification. Graduates with this certification are typically employed as accounts or wages clerks, accounting assistants, sales ledger clerks, tax assistants, or accounts manager. CAT can be used as an introduction to the accountancy profession or as an accelerated route to the ACCA Professional Qualification.

Although it isn’t always necessary, many accountants have degrees. A three or four year programme in accounting will build upon the introductory concepts. Topics of study may include information systems; including information flow in electronic information systems, and electronic financial transactions. Differences between management and financial accounting concepts are investigated, and there is emphasis on, among other topics, financial transaction analysis, preparation of more complex financial statements, legal requirements, professional ethics, as well as tax concepts and tax planning strategies.

Some degree programs specialise in specific areas such as Griffith College in both Cork and Dublin, which offers a three year Accounting and Finance degree and in the later years concentrates on the impact of EU Law on accountancy. Each of the Universities offers degrees in accounting and offer opportunity for specialisation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

If you are more interested in the payroll aspect of accounting or if working in this field then Payroll training courses may be a more suitable option. The Irish Payroll Association (IPASS) is Ireland ‘s premier provider of Payroll Training, PAYE Training, PRSI Training, VAT Training, qualifications and is the only representative body for payroll professionals in Ireland. Courses are offered countrywide and take place at several intervals throughout the year.

While accounting graduates commonly work in financial services, marketing and administrative fields, career opportunities can be found in every corner of the globe, at every level of business, and in every specialty. Anywhere there is a business, institution, government body, or volunteer organisation there is a need for accountants. Students who successfully complete accounting courses can expect a wide range of opportunities in this field.

To see a wider list of accounting and payroll training courses, you can use the following link;

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50,000 Apprenticeship and Trainee Registrations by 2020

Solas Apprenticeships IrelandThe Government’s Plan to expand apprenticeships and traineeships in Ireland  was recently launched in Piranha Bar, a creative digital studio producing commercials, films and animated content in Dublin City Centre. The plan aims to deliver 50,000 apprenticeship and traineeship registrations by 2020. Piranha bar will be running one of these programmes – an exciting new traineeship in visual effects.

There are currently 27 apprenticeships in Ireland, in areas such as construction, engineering and the motor sector. Other countries have a much broader tradition of apprenticeship. For example, Germany has over 300 apprenticeships, across a wide range of sectors.

Under the Plan, Apprenticeships and Traineeships will give an alternative career path for many young people. Apprentices and trainees will be embedded in enterprises and will get the chance to learn skills and get hands on experience. It will give young people the opportunity to acquire applied, technical skills within a variety of sectors, and provide a very practical grounding which will stand to them as they move through their career and take advantage of promotional opportunities. For companies, the aptitudes which will be learned by these apprentices and trainees will be invaluable. It will help exporting companies based in Ireland to scale their business, to grow their exports and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a global economy.

The plan is based on the view that in order to have a properly functioning skills development system to support a growing economy, and in order to provide career paths for people of different types of interest and abilities, we must develop a stronger pipeline of apprenticeships and traineeships. Higher education institutions alone will supply a portion of our skills needs, but there is a need for stronger alternative routes and alternative sources of the different types of skills that a growing economy requires.

The Plan will accelerate the delivery of new apprenticeships and traineeships:

  • Roadmap with annual targets for the number of new Apprenticeship and Traineeships up to 2020
  • Clear 10 step path for the development of new apprenticeships and Traineeships
  • 2017 call for new Apprenticeship and Traineeship proposals to refresh the existing pipeline
  • Details of how state agencies, education and training providers and employers will work together
  • Enhance collaboration between the three education agencies SOLAS, HEA and QQI, in liaison with the Department of Education and Skills
  • Proactively engage with employers and enterprise to secure buy in and engagement with the apprenticeship and traineeship routes
  • Strategically build capacity within the education and training system, in the areas that include curriculum design, quality assurance and enterprise engagement; and mechanisms to underpin expansion with robust, ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
  • Launch an apprenticeship web portal; Enhance national IT systems and supports for apprenticeship underway to support connections with employers and apprentices nationally
  • Run a Promotional campaign, to target SMEs and FDI, guided by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the regional skills fora.
  • Review patterns of participation in apprenticeship and traineeship by groups in apprenticeship, including female participation; identify any barriers existing, and makes recommendations for the future.

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, the first of the new programmes developed through the Apprenticeship Council’s first call for proposals, launched in September 2016 and an Industrial Engineer Apprenticeship commenced in November 2016. 13 further new apprenticeships are due to launch later this year in various sectors including medical devices, polymer processing and financial services.

A campaign to promote apprenticeship is currently being developed by SOLAS in consultation with key partners, including the Apprenticeship Council. The campaign will raise awareness and promote the value of apprenticeship for individual apprentices and for employers and it will cover both existing apprenticeships and the new apprenticeships now coming on stream.

For more information visit the SOLAS website at

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Paper Versus Computer Screens

books versus computer screens for learningComputers and the internet play a huge part in learning nowadays. Online courses, online lecture notes for students and research material for essays are just some of the reasons behind the rise of computers in education.

But is our increased use of computers affecting our quality of learning? Would we be better sticking to traditional books and paper? Researchers at the Children’s Digital Media Centre in LA set out to answer these questions in a series of studies and the results were interesting.

The studies, based on sixty six students, examined three questions; what medium the students preferred to work with, if their memory and reading comprehension was better on paper or screen and which medium was better for critical thinking when essay writing.

Sixty of the sixty six students said that they preferred to study with paper than on the computer but when scientists tested this, the results showed that there was no difference in reading comprehension skills or memory after reading on paper or on screen, even when the students were allowed to multitask. Multitasking, however, did mean that the students took longer to read.

The scientists also found that there was no difference between reading source materials for essay writing online or on page. Even though the students felt that their essays would be better when they had researched on paper instead of the internet, the quality was the same for both paper and online research.

These results were only applicable to when the students did not have access to the internet, once the students went online and multitasked, the results went down. However, when students took notes from the internet using a pen and paper, results improved again.

While the internet and computer screens do not appear to hamper our learning dramatically, the way we read on the internet could be affecting our quality of reading. Cognitive neuroscientists have warned that humans are beginning to develop ‘digital’ style brains that skim through information and are unable to read slowly.

In the US, at the time of the study, time spent online was expected to be around five hours per day for the average adult; a three hour increase from the previous year. It is this time spent on the internet and on social media that has trained our brains to skim sentences for buzz words and has left us unable to read long pieces of writing as we are scrolling and scanning through pieces instead of reading.

This habit of jumping through text is bad news for studying, as we need to be able to absorb what we are reading in order to be able to learn. Maryanne Wolf, a cognitive neuroscientist at Tufts University, recommends having a balance between reading from books and on screen and advocates taking breaks from the computer to have time to read a book slowly.

So, when it comes to absorbing what we read, it appears that having a balance of both the computer and books is advisable.The old fashioned method of jotting down key points onto paper from online or digital sources is a good way of merging old and new, and try to stay away from social media when studying as this encourages the skimming style of reading mentioned above (feel free to use it to share this article though).

Author: Fiona McBennett

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What is VTOS?

vtos coursesIf you are over 21 years of age, unemployed and have been getting certain social welfare payments for at least 6 months you can apply for the Vocational Training and Opportunities Scheme (VTOS). The VTOS scheme provides a wide range of courses to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people. It gives participants opportunities to improve their general level of education, gain certification, develop their skills and prepare for employment, self-employment and further education and training. VTOS is operated through local Education and Training Boards and is aimed in particular at unemployed people who are early school-leavers.


What kinds of courses are available?
The courses range from basic education and training to advanced vocational training and there is a wide choice of subjects. The courses are full-time, about 30 hours a week (for example, 6 hours a day for 5 days) and can last up to 2 years. Many courses lead to qualifications such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and awards at Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. You can find a list of VTOS courses on your local ETB (Education and Training Board) website. Find your local ETB at


You may qualify for the VTOS scheme if you are aged 21 years or over and you are:

  • Getting, Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance or signing for credits for at least 6 months or
  • Getting One-Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Illness Benefit* or Invalidity Pension for at least 6 months or
  • Getting Blind Pension, Deserted Wife’s Allowance/Benefit, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension or Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance for at least 6 months (conditions may apply in the case of these payments) or
  • A dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of an eligible person
  • A person who received statutory redundancy but who has not been in receipt of a qualifying payment for the required period.

Periods spent on FET training courses, Community Employment Schemes, Job Initiative, Youthreach programmes and time in prison can count towards the qualifying period.
* If you are claiming Illness Benefit, you should contact your local social welfare office about exemption/entitlement to continuation of your Illness Benefit payment.


There are no fees for VTOS courses and you will get free books and materials at the start of the course. Depending on your individual circumstances you may be eligible for the following:

  • Meal allowance
  • Travel allowance
  • Free childcare place for children under the Childcare Employment and Training Support (CETS) scheme,
  • A training bonus payment, if you have been getting an eligible social welfare payment for at least 12 months before starting the VTOS scheme. It was announced in Budget 2014, from 1 January 2014, the €20 bonus payment to long-term unemployed VTOS participants will end. This only applies to new participants.
    More detailed information about the rates of payment for VTOS participants is on the Department of Social Protection website.

How to apply

Students can participate in a chosen VTOS course as one of the following;

  • A core VTOS student attending a VTOS centre or adult education centre or
  • A dispersed VTOS student, usually attending a Post-Leaving Certificate course in a further education college.

Contact the VTOS co-ordinator at your local ETB centre to find out more about the VTOS courses available.



Reproduced under licence from ©

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Online Degree Courses

online degrees irelandDistance learning has become increasingly popular in recent years, however, the idea of distance learning is not all that new; there have been distance education programmes available in Ireland for over 25 years. These courses were print-based at the beginning, however, today it is easy to enrol in an online course, with the selection of subjects, colleges and courses, including degrees, greater than ever.

Doing a degree online is a convenient way for those with busy lives to study and work at the same time. The benefits of online classes, online tutor-student support and forums for discussion with classmates, provides a college experience without the commitment of having to attend a college every day for lectures.

There are many places to choose from when considering e-learning at degree level. Below are just some of the colleges in Ireland that offer degree courses online.

NUI Galway
NUI Galway offers online , blended and modular learning programmes. The same education is provided online as in a classroom setting and the programmes offered range from level 7 to level 9 in the NFQ. Degree programmes typically take 4 years to complete and are assessed through assignments, learning journals and online contributions and examinations. Courses on offer include a BA in Social Care, a degree in Early Childhood Studies and Practice and a BSc in Rural Development.

Hibernia College
Ireland’s first wholly online provider of third level degrees, Hibernia College was established in 2000 and is best known for providing postgraduate primary school teacher training courses. It now trains more teachers than the all of the traditional teacher training colleges put together. Hibernia now offers a postgraduate course in second level education as well as degrees in computing and business.

Sligo IT
Sligo IT has seen a 15% rise in their number of online students and this has brought their online student population up to nearly 1,300. The majority of courses are 2 year part-time and range from certificate to postgraduate level. Fees for a 2 year course vary from €4,000 for a level 6 certificate to €9,000 for a level 9 post graduate course.

Dublin City University offers a selection of online degree programmes through Oscail, where students can interact with their tutors online once they have paid their fee and registered. DCU’s virtual learning environment provides students with the opportunity to ask questions through online forums and attend live online tutorials. Each student has a tutor to help them with their studies and there are face to face meet ups on campus also. A BA course with Oscail costs €9,000 and students over 23 with no previous qualifications can apply.

UCD Online has been developed as a response to growing student demand as well as recent advances in online learning. Based on 150 years of experience in developing courses, UCD Online provides students with the same quality material and support as campus students but with a flexibility that allows students to work in a way that suits them. Students are assigned a personal tutor and many of the courses are taught through modules that are delivered on demand. Methods of assessment are specific to each module and each module is assessed separately. Courses on offer include a Bachelor of Business Studies.

Ulearning at the University of Limerick was established in 2008 and works to connect industry and academia by focusing on individual and corporate skill gaps. Degree courses such as Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management as well as a Masters in Software Engineering are on offer.

Click to View Distance Learning Courses on

: Fiona McBennett

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PCI College, 2017 Open Days

pci college open daysIf you are considering a career in counselling, or want an amazing personal development course to enrich your own life and understanding of others, then why not go along to one of the PCI College Open Days! You can find out more about the courses, and be entered into a draw to win a free place on the spring Certificate in Counselling & Psychotherapy, starting in February 2017.

The Open Days will be held in each of the course venues, and you can meet Lecturers, Admissions staff and Graduates to answer all your questions, from course content to timetables, qualifications, fees and teaching approach.

Open Days Venues & Dates

  • Saturday 21st January 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Dublin City Centre, College House, Townsend Street, Dublin 2
  • Saturday 21st January 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Cork, Cork Education Centre, Western Road, Cork
  • Saturday 21st January 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Dublin West, Corrig House, Old Naas Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22
  • Tuesday 24th January 2017 1.00pm – 7.00pm – PCI College Kilkenny, Butler House, Patrick Street, Kilkenny
  • Thursday 26th January 2017 1.00pm – 7.00pm – PCI College Dublin City Centre, College House, Townsend Street, Dublin 2
  • Saturday 4th February 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Athlone, Athlone Education Centre, Moydrum Road, Athlone
  • Saturday 4th February 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Belfast, Inspire (NIAMH/Carecall) Central Office, Lombard House, 10-20 Lombard Street, Belfast, BT1 1 RD
  • Saturday 4th February 2017 11.00am – 6.00pm – PCI College Limerick, Limerick Education Centre, Dooradoyle Road, Limerick

These Open Days are Free of Charge – Please Register your interest and let us know what time you plan to attend the Open Day. You can see more details here.

The Certificate in Counselling & Psychotherapy (starting February 2017) is a 100 hour introductory course in counselling & psychotherapy, which introduces you to the three main elements of Counselling & Psychotherapy – personal development, counselling skills and theories & approaches. It meets the entry criteria for the BSc honours degree, and is a fulfilling and energising personal development course which can benefit anyone.

If you want more information now, or have if you have questions about the Open Days or our courses, call us (ask for David or Adam) at 01-464 2268 or email and we’ll get in touch.

View PCI College Courses on

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Further Education, The PLC Application Process

how to apply for plc courseFurther Education can be described as education and training which occurs after second level schooling but which is not part of the third level system. Further education providers offer a wide variety of QQI level 5 and level 6 courses often known as Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses. Students mostly enter into these courses following the Leaving Certificate or when returning to education. Most courses require applicants to have five passes in the Leaving Certificate or a pass at Leaving Certificate Applied, however, mature applicants without these requirements are also considered.

Around Spring each year, many further education colleges hold interviews for first round applicants. The interviews are normally conducted by members of the teaching staff who are aware that many students may not have been in an interview situation before. Therefore, questions are not designed to trick students and the interviewers are happy to help applicants if needed.

The purpose of the interviews is to assess if the applicant is suitable for the course and interview questions are based on course content and the applicant’s experience and career plans. Some colleges ask that applicants bring along samples of work, especially when applying for creative courses , however the colleges are only looking to establish the applicant’s level of interest and are not looking for a high level of skill. Colleges may also require a reference from the student’s school or a recent report.

Most further education colleges do not have a closing date for applications and continue to accept applications until all places are filled. However, with the popularity of these courses increasing in recent times, students are encouraged to apply early to ensure they have the best chance of attaining a place.

When applying for a course, applicants are advised to look over the course information and familiarise themselves with the course content. Applicants should also be ready to talk about how their chosen course will fit into their long-term goals i.e. Will they be entering into employment or continuing their studies? Applicants are also advised to mention any relevant work experience they may have and are advised to dress smartly and arrive on time.

Some examples of further education colleges are lsited below.

St. Louis Community School, Mayo, offers PLC courses in areas such as Childcare Classroom Assistant Special Needs (level 5), Nursing studies (level 5) and Business Administration (level 6).

Dorset College, Dublin, offers PLC courses in areas such as Diploma in Accounting and Business, Diploma in Project Management and Game Design and Animation Development.

Portobello Institute is based in Dublin but also runs courses in other parts of the country. It offers PLC courses in topics such as Speech and Language Therapy Assistant, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Advanced Beauty Therapy.

Dun Laoghaire College of Further Education runs a range of Arts, Business, Computing, Design, Healthcare, Media and Animal welfare courses in the South Dublin area.

Rathmines College in Dublin 6 offers further education and PLC courses in the areas of Business, computers, liberal arts, office administration, PR, Journalism and more.

Moate Business College in the midlands caters to a wide catchment area and offers a lot more than business. Students here can choose from healthcare, computer studies, art & design and more.

View PLC and Further Education Courses on –

Author: Fiona McBennett

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