If you have finished your secondary education in Ireland and would like to develop vocational or technological skills in order to get a job or to go into further education and training, a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course may be what you are looking for. PLC’s are often seen as just an option for school-leavers. In fact, you will be also welcomed as an adult participant.
PLC courses take place in schools, colleges and community education centres around the country. The courses are full-time and last for one to two years. They offer a mixture of “hands-on” practical work, academic work and work experience. They are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, as such, they are closely linked to industry and its needs. Post Leaving Certificate courses adopt an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience. Almost 50% of the time spent on these courses is devoted to knowledge and skill training related to employment, with a further 25% on relevant work-based experience.
Over 90% of PLC courses are delivered by ETBs (Educationing and Training Boards). A wide range of disciplines are covered including business, electronics, engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, horticulture etc. The Department of Education carries a list of PLC courses by county.
The qualification you receive at the end of your training will depend on the type of course you have chosen. Many of the one-year PLC courses offer QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland – previously FETAC) accreditation at level 5, while other more advanced courses may offer QQI level 6, which can lead to further studies at third level. Other qualifications such as City and Guilds are also available. It is important to check out the qualification attached to a particular course before you decide to enrol.
In general, you should have finished your secondary education and taken your Leaving Certificate examination in order to be eligible for a PLC course. However, if you have work experience relevant to the course on offer or think you can demonstrate a particular ability in that area, you should write to the college where the course will take place. Explain your circumstances in the letter and ask to meet the co-ordinator of the course.
A maintenance grant scheme for which PLC students are able to apply is available. The maintenance scheme is means tested, and grants are paid along the same lines as the current third level student support scheme. Grant applications are available through SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland – www.susi.ie).
How to apply
Find the course in which you are most interested and apply directly to the school or college offering that course. Because the courses are work-related, you will probably be called for an interview before a final selection is made. These interviews are often quite informal and offer you the opportunity to discuss your particular interest in the course.