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Expansion of apprenticeships and waiving of PLC fees promote new and alternative third-level opportunities – Dolan

27th October 2021 - Aisling Dolan

With the waiving of PLC fees in Budget 2022, as well as €20 million in funding to expand apprenticeship programmes, let’s put our students first and make them aware of alternative and new pathways to progress to third-level education, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Aisling Dolan, Fine Gael’s Spokesperson for Education, said, “Over recent years, we’ve had a societal shift in terms of our thinking about third-level education. We now know that the ‘one size fits all’ model of encouraging all young people to attend university does not best serve the needs of every single student.

“Secondary school students must be aware of the opportunities that exist post Leaving Cert. We need to amplify the message that there is far more than just progressing on to university for young people to consider. Students’ wellbeing has to come first, and we must deal with the pressure over points which leads to so many following the traditional route to college. This is a huge issue for families all around the country as we can see from high dropout rates in first year.

“An increase in public investment in further and higher education in recent years reflects the Government’s strong commitment to the area. From Post Leaving Certificate courses (PLC) to apprenticeships, Government is putting significant money behind alternative third-level education pathways. Much more choice now exists for school leavers and career changers through part-time, evening or online flexible courses that best suits their lives.

“Apprenticeships are practical and valuable opportunities for young people, as well as those looking to return to education, to consider. This option allows people to earn a QQI qualification, while also managing costs for further and higher education. The demand for apprenticeships is growing at the moment, with Minister Simon Harris recently announcing €20 million in capital funding to expand apprenticeships provision. This funding will support the delivery of an additional almost 4,000 craft apprentice places annually.

“For people who might be unsure about what they wish to study or are looking to develop their technical and practical skills, PLCs are fantastic courses to pursue. Due to changes in this year’s Budget, all PLCs will be completely free for the next round of students beginning college next year. From September 2022, the €200 levy to take part in a PLC Course will be abolished, which will apply to every PLC course in ETBs across the country. A PLC course could be the first step for people of all ages towards a degree, Masters or PhD on your journey to a new career.

“The investment and opportunities are out there for students to take advantage of. Parents, teachers, and career guidance counsellors can best support young people by showing them all the options to reach their career of choice and  provide students with the information and resources that best equip them to make a decision post Leaving Cert that allows them to reach their potential, ” Senator Dolan concluded.

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