13 Aug 2022

Further education and training with PLC courses offers a different path

Leaving Cert: Other options if you don't get the points you need

Three young further education and training (FET) graduates are calling on Leaving Certificate students in Leitrim to consider post leaving certificate (PLC) courses, apprenticeships and traineeships for their next step, as they receive their Leaving Certificate results today.

The call is supported by SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, who are today encouraging all school leavers in Leitrim and across Ireland to consider their post-school options, in particular, students who:

  • Are unsure of what they want to study;
  • Wish to progress into a career where FET is the best learning pathway; or
  • Will not receive the points they need for their CAO choices. 

The three students include:

Harry Angel, an Auctioneering Property Services apprentice working with DNG. Harry completed his Leaving Cert in 2019 and applied for this apprenticeship course with Ballsbridge College. He received enough points and an offer to do a three-year degree course in Real Estate. Harry chose the apprenticeship route over the degree course as it was two years rather than three, it meant he would be out on the job gaining real-life experience, earning a salary while learning, and offered him more independence.

Danay Berhane, a chef de partie at The Hound Restaurant at the five-star Mount Juliette Estate. Danay had applied to study Culinary Arts at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) through the CAO but didn’t get the leaving cert-points required. After a year-long Professional Cookery Post Leaving Cert (PLC) course at the College of Commerce, and due to his performance on that course, Danay was accepted to the Culinary Arts course at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). He has since gone on to win the international Dairy Chef of the Year competition and work in a series of high-profile kitchens, including the Michelin-starred Oak Room at Adare Manor, before moving to his current position.

Amie McNamara, a soon-to-be qualified nurse and pre-nursing graduate of Kerry College. In 2016 when Amie sat her leaving cert, she was unsure about the career she wanted to do. She was curious about nursing and decided to pursue the Nursing Studies PLC course at Kerry College. On completion of that course, Amie knew that nursing was the career for her and achieved the qualifications required to apply to UCD for the nursing programme there. She was accepted to the course in UCD and graduates this year.

“The established route from school to university is not a ‘one size fits all’ model” according to Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, who was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Leaving Cert results. He continued: “There are many students in Leitrim who will find that the best, most promising route to their career of choice is a FET course. For others, FET offers a chance to try out an area of learning or career path before committing. And for many who may not receive the points required to progress to a chosen university course, FET can offer a route to access that course in a year’s time, with better progression options and a head start in terms of their knowledge of the subject area.

Of the opportunities for students of all profiles and from across Ireland, Mr. Brownlee commented: “Ahead of the publication of Leaving Cert results tomorrow, SOLAS is encouraging students, and their parents, to look at their options and to realise there are diverse opportunities open to them as well as the traditional route of entry to higher education directly from school. 

“In fact, in many cases, further education and training courses can be the best option to progress directly into a broad range of careers. Further education and training can offer students many benefits, such as smaller class sizes, learning on-the-job in earn as you learn apprenticeships, and traineeships.”

PLC courses can provide a foundation for students in specific sectors before they commit to completing an undergraduate course. Examples include Pre-University Law and Pre-University Science.
Recent research has shown that having a foundation in FET helps the chances of getting your degree if you move into higher education. We also know that 1 in 5 of the current intake in institutes of technology and technological universities come from FET, with more and more people recognising the value of this FET-HE pathway.
Many universities, colleges and Institutes of Technology have programmes in place to recognise FET qualifications as a route to entry. If a student completes a PLC programme with good results and meets specific criteria, they have a good chance of securing a place on a third-level course.
FET courses and programmes are available in every county in Ireland, delivered through 16 Education and Training Boards nationwide.
Apprenticeships are now available in a wide variety of areas, including international financial services, recruitment, auctioneering, engineering, hospitality and insurance practice, with more set to be announced within the coming months.

Mr. Brownlee concluded: “Leaving Cert results time is stressful for both students and parents. Often, there is huge pressure on young people to have their education and career path mapped out, and unexpected Leaving Cert results can seem like a catastrophe and a dead end for these plans.

“With the added pressure of Covid-19 uncertainties, we’re encouraging students and parents to explore all their options as there are many routes to future careers.

For further information on FET opportunities, visit

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