Exploring Education Options

Education used to be thought of as something you finished once you left school. Nowadays, learning is encouraged at all times during your life – including well into retirement. Learning more about something that interests us is usually a rewarding experience, as we get to satisfy our natural curiosity and develop skills and a greater understanding in the area.

Courses and Levels

From a careers point of view, completing a course that is accredited by a recognised authority is essential. In Ireland, the Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is the agency responsible for ensuring course providers provide education & training to the required standards. The QQI also produce the National Framework of Qualifications, which sets out clearly the level of education & training the course is designed to achieve (10 levels from basic to Doctoral)

There are several other accreditation authorities who cover specialist areas and are equally recognised internationally, including the State Examinations Commission (Junior Cert and Leaving Cert), the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT); Law Society of Ireland and so on. Other courses in Ireland are accredited by International agencies, such as City & Guilds (UK), Edexcel (UK). More Information here

When undertaking a course for the purpose of furthering your career, it is very important that the course is accredited by a recognised authority in the relevant industry. It is also important to understand the levels as defined by the NFQ, and the progression routes that may be available (a QQI Level 6 award can be used as a stepping stone to a higher award in a related area, e.g. a Level 7 award). More Information here

Courses and Careers

The connection between courses and careers is often not very straightforward. In a very real sense, all education forms part of your career journey, as you become equipped with skills and knowledge that may be relevant at any stage in your life. Completing any course is a milestone on any career journey, as it offers an external validation of your skills / knowledge, and one that is valued by employers.

As a general rule if you aren’t sure what career direction to move in, you should simply extend your general education. If you have an idea which career area you want to pursue, but no particular occupation in specific, then take a general course in that area. Choosing a course that is strongly focused on a particular occupational area (e.g. Vet, Accountant, Civil Engineer) is recommended only if you are quite certain that that is the path for you.

The level of commitment you make in terms of time also needs to be considered – some undergraduate courses last 3 or 4 years, but you might prefer to opt out after one or two years. Choosing a shorter course with progression opportunities e.g. a 2 year Level 6 course may suit you more than a 4 year commitment to a Level 8 Honours Degree course. In these cases you will receive an award after two years, with the option to build up to a Level 7 and 8 award as you complete the required learning.

Upskilling & Continuous Professional Development

As our labour market changes focus in the direction of a knowledge economy, more and more people who have fallen out of the jobs market, or who want to embrace and be prepared for the new opportunities that arise, are undertaking courses designed to increase their skills. Many such courses are financially supported by the government (see Upskilling Initiatives) and others can be found throughout the Further and Higher education sectors.

Non-Vocational Courses

Thousands of people undertake formal and informal courses at various levels purely out of interest. This is an increasingly popular pastime for people across Ireland. It is also an excellent opportunity to develop knowledge and skills that may in the future play a part in your career development. View Lifelong Learning courses here.

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