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After school options

Pressure is on to make up your mind!

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in education

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Finishing school is a time for some serious thinking (and dreaming) about your future: Cue deep breath! In Leaving Cert or A Levels/GCSE year, you need to decide what’s best for YOU and whether you want to continue studying in college or university, take some time out, get a job or apprenticeship or do something totally different. Cue another deep breath!

A glance at the huge number of options out there:

  • Many people choose to apply for university or college - check the SpunOut Uni and College article for info on everything from leaving home to exams!
  • Go to your local careers office or youth information centre and ask for advice. Depending on what you want to do, there might be short courses or work experience options.
  • You can take an apprenticeship. This means learning while working, in professions such as carpentry and mechanics. Since the economic downturn, there are not as many apprenticeships available and it is much harder to get onto an apprenticeship scheme. There is still a specific female apprenticeship scheme in place to encourage the entry of women into male dominated professions, however. The apprenticeship system is organised by SOLAS and you can find out more here
  • You can start your own business. Sure, why not! Check out for more info.
  • If you’re interested in working in tourism, Fáilte Ireland has a range of courses, including chefing, hospitality skills, bar skills and hotel management. Many of the courses are very flexible, allowing you to choose between learning full-time or part-time.
  • If you’re between 15 and 18 and have left school early, you can train with YouthReach. The training is full-time (you get an allowance) and covers work experience, skills and general education.
  • It is also worth thinking about you: your interests, your passions, your skills, your talents and your needs in relation to preparing for a future career. It is also worth examining your life goals in terms of possible careers.
  • Remember, plans can be changed or refined as you gain more information about yourself and about the world.
  • PLC (Post Leaving Cert) courses are a good choice for getting a taste of the career you are interested in. A range of courses are available, including childcare, accounting, computers, beauty, catering, secretarial and media. PLC qualifications can also be used to help you get a place in university in Ireland and the UK. Contact your careers office or local ETB (education and training board) office.
  • The Gardaí have recently resumed recruiting, police and defence forces recruit young people every year.
  • FÁS provides a range of services to help people find work and learn new skills. The FÁS website has information on a huge number of options for anyone looking for work or qualifications, from crafts to computers to farming to finance. Jobs Ireland has a range of jobs and training you can do while receiving welfare payments. Employment Services, CE schemes, Supported Employment, Job Clubs and Job Initiatives have recently been transferred to the Department of Social Protection.
  • You can do an Internship through the JobBridge programme. This is a new scheme that allows interns to work at a job placement for six to eighteen months.
  • You can take an Open University degree and work while you study. It takes longer than a normal degree and costs a bit more, but you study from home and can have a normal job at the same time.
  • If you don’t feel ready for university or college now, you can always return later as a mature student. This is an increasingly popular option and is worth thinking about.

Travel and volunteering:

Not everyone wants to jump straight into more study after school and even more people don’t want to get a job right after school or university!

  • Whatever your reasons (gap year, desperate to see more of the world, don't know what sort of job you want), travel or voluntary work are always worth the effort and can be the perfect way to decide what the next step is for you: be it education, work or taking over the world!
  • If you’ve got itchy feet and a brand spankin' new guidebook, check out our Travel section for everything you need to know before making that trip of a lifetime!
  • Volunteering is the way to go for those of you who want to learn new skills, explore career options or give something back to the world around you.

Why not...

Start a band, join a monastery, try to make it on Broadway, open a gallery, join the circus, start a blog, be a busker, write a book, open a community garden, spend some quality time with your gran.

Remember, this life is a blank canvas. Splash the colour and take the path that feels right to you, no matter what naysayers grunt and groan about. It is your life. The sky, your imagination, and your determination are the limit!

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Published January 21st, 2013
Last updated May 24th, 2018
Tags college work volunteer
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