There was a time (not far gone) when we were privileged enough to move from one job to another; now we exist in a recessional world that is characterised by high unemployment. Many of us can no longer afford the luxury of taking a career break for further study. However, rather than forgo further study for professional or personal reasons; many people are turning to short-term, evening courses (either on-site or via distance learning) to satisfy their professional, educational and personal requirements.
Most VECs and educational institutions (who run evening courses) have Adult Guidance Officers who can offer guidance in the right course direction. Along with VECs, there are secondary schools, private colleges and distance learning providers who offer a comprehensive range of evening courses – all up-dated annually. They also have websites with in-depth information and some have downloadable evening course brochures. Higher Education Institutes also offer an array of exciting evening courses. This gives students the opportunity to experience learning on a college campus and avail of other college services. HEIs offer everything from classical Greek to psychoanalysis.
Of course, evening time learning is the ideal time to learn if you are committed to a day-time job, have children or other time demanding commitments. There is also the shorter evening which often entails lounging and flicking through mindless television with little personal development and productivity going on.
The hunger for learning and progression is truly reflected in the choice and diverse range of classes available and they continue to grow every year. As they say, there is something for everybody: IT, business skills, first aid, languages, car maintenance, DIY, crafts, community development, criminology, sustainable development, counselling skills amongst others. They cater for hobby, leisure and professional needs and there are a range of professional and accredited qualifications on offer.
In terms of popularity, it is little surprise to see the constant and increased demand for computer related courses – whether to keep up with IT savvy children at home or to learn simple tasks like copying and pasting to sending an email. Evening courses start from the very basics to the more advanced. Web and graphic design courses are also increasing in demand.
With the media keeping a close eye on future skills needs – it is little surprise to see that people have a new found interest in learning languages. Employees and graduates with a second and third language are hard to find and students see an evening course as their first step to building language skills and impressing employees for undertaking such a course for professional development.
Another growth area is the area of personal development and counselling skills. Aside from an interest in ‘helping skills’ for professional reasons – people also have a healthy awareness of how the mind works and wish to attain skills to perhaps deal with their own or family mental health issues, phobias or sometimes they wish to acquire counselling skills to help them in their own workplace.
DIY courses and car maintenance courses are also growing in popularity as with little disposable income, people want to learn how to tend to their own DIY and car servicing themselves.
Evening courses are usually short term; however there are evening courses that go on for an academic year or even several years and these usually lead to a professional accredited qualification. Some evening courses entail getting a FETAC award, whilst others award certificates of completion, diplomas and degrees (NUIG for example offer longer term options for attaining degrees in several fields of study). The cost (aside from the longer courses) tend to be minimal and are often subsidised and there are reduced rates for those on social welfare payments.
Motivation is the ability to move or to find something that makes us move forward. The range of Autumn courses offered nationally are just that; they are there to assist us move forward personally and professionally. It is nice to leave the Winter behind with a new skill or course under your belt.
The settings for evening courses are friendly with a diverse range of age groups all with different life experiences and backgrounds. Learning is made digestible and fun and for those who have had a past negative experience in an educational setting; this is the ideal way to introduce yourself to a new and enriching life experience.
Learning gives us a renewed confidence and it is ideal for meeting new people and making new contacts. This is relevant if you have moved to a new area or have recently being made unemployed. In terms of seeking employment; it can demonstrate transferable skills like determination, motivation, and independent learning to a future employer.
Evening courses allow you to sample different courses over a short period of time – a course that might one day lead to setting up your own business or being successful at a job interview and going on to finding that job of your dreams.
They say schooldays are the best days of our lives; that would make evening classes the best evenings of our lives.