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Take time to consider the options: career advice Guidance Counsellor Niamh Dwyer

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At this time of year many Third and Fourth Year students are considering their options for Senior Cycle. Some thought and proper research at this stage paves the way for lots of opportunities for progression onto college courses, apprenticeships, training programmes and the workplace in the future. The main choices to consider are Transition Year, Leaving Cert Applied and the traditional Leaving Cert.

 

Transition Year

There are lots of benefits to choosing TY. It gives students lots of opportunities to develop new skills personally and in terms of the world of work. It gives a breather from constant academic work and means that you are a year older (and hopefully wiser!) leaving school. Most schools offer subject sampling which is a big help when making subject choices for Fifth and Sixth Year. Students are encouraged to engage in activities that move them outside of their comfort zone, allowing them to take on more responsibility and leadership thus gaining more independence. One of the biggest attractions for students is work experience which is a really valuable way of getting a sense of the workplace and an idea if a particular job suits you or not. The TY programme varies in each school so check out the opportunities in your school.

Leaving Certificate Applied Programme

For students who are interested in more practical learning and hands-on work the LCA is the ideal option. It is a two year stand-alone programme which focuses on equipping students with work-based skills and knowledge while assessing in a more continuous way. Work experience is an integral part of the programme, usually offered on one day of the school week. While students who do LCA can’t apply directly through CAO from Leaving Cert, most other career paths are open to them, including apprenticeships, traineeships and Post Leaving Courses (PLCs) which once completed progress onto institutes of technology and universities.

Traditional Leaving Certificate

Moving into the final two years in secondary school requires students to make subject choices that suit them and will enable them to progress in career areas they may be interested in. That said, it is perfectly normal for 15 and 16-year-olds to not know what they want to do after school. Students will generally take seven subjects for Leaving Cert – Irish, English and Maths, which are compulsory unless you have a language exemption, and then four optional subjects chosen from those which are offered in the school. If on offer in the school, some students may also opt for Leaving Cert Vocational Programme (LCVP), a subject which focuses on enterprise education and preparation for the world of work.

What to consider when choosing optional subjects

First, think about the subjects you like and what you are good at. Secondly, if you do have an idea of the general career areas you would like to go into after school check out what subjects might be required for the colleges, courses or careers that you are interested in. Finally, if you really don’t have an idea of what you want to do after school then choose a broad range of subjects so you keep as many options open as you can. Consider taking one option from the following: language, science, business subject, a practical or humanities based subject.

Resources to help

Talking to your guidance counsellor in school is a huge help as he/she will be able to explore your interests, strengths, aptitudes and past performance in subjects with you as well as answer any questions you have about requirements for courses and colleges. If you want to check out the content of any of the Leaving Cert subjects you are considering go to www.careersportal.ie/school/subjectexplorer. To check any subject requirements have a look at the Undergraduate section of the college websites and there is also a very useful subject requirement module on www.qualifax.ie.

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Possible return to campus for college students

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

The announcement by the Department of Education this week, that the Leaving Cert results will be issued on Friday, September 3, was followed by confirmation from the Central Applications Office that CAO Round 1 offers will be issued online, four days later on Tuesday, September 7 at 2pm.

This is about three weeks later than normal, although it is earlier than the 2020 dates. Coinciding with the release of these dates comes the news from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, that it is the priority of Government to get college students back on campus for the 2021/2022 academic year. Because of the later issue of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers, this means that First Year students will start college a couple of weeks later than those who are returning to college in Second, Third and Fourth Year.

From the point of social distancing, the staggered start may be an advantage, as we will still be living with certain restrictions due to COVID-19. There are a number of contributing factors what will influence a safe and successful return to the college campus for students according to Minister Harris. They include the roll-out and take-up of vaccinations in the college-age cohort by September, the use of rapid testing on campus which has been run as a pilot in several universities this year, and a varied approach to face-to-face lectures. It is hoped that smaller classes, practicals and tutorials can be operated as before with social distancing while the larger lectures may need to be facilitated using a blended approach. It is also felt that if cafés, restaurants and bars are open everywhere else, there is no reason why they can’t open on campus. This of course is all based on vaccinations and public health guidelines.

ACCOMMODATION

A big concern for First Year students following the announcements is the fact that they will be looking for accommodation later than all other students. This is an issue every single year because when CAO offers are issued, many students get offers for colleges in locations where they have not secured accommodation. Naturally it is of particular concern to rural students and mirrors a greater societal shortage of accommodation. Minister Harris has also stated that he is bringing a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks to implement legislation which means that the owners of purpose-built student accommodation will only be allowed to charge rents a month in advance rather than insisting on payment of rent for half of the college year, something which has put enormous strain on students and their families over the years.
So, while any kind of certainty surrounding a return to ‘normal’ college life isn’t possible, it is both hopeful and exciting for new and returning college students to be able to look forward to the next college year with the prospect of getting to enjoy a real college experience and all that has to offer.

WEBINAR

I will be hosting a free webinar for Leaving Cert parents on June 16 at 7pm on ‘How to help your son/daughter with CAO Change of Mind and other career options’ ahead of the CAO deadline on July 1. 

To register see links on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @mycareerplan or email me on info@mycareerplan.ie. 

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Deadline for health and well-being fest fast approaching

Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching. This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10. Organised by an interagency […]

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Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching.

This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Organised by an interagency steering group, the key focus of the Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest is to promote mental health and well-being in Kerry through a fun and interactive programme of events.

“The Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest aims to create awareness of, and schedule events that empower people to engage with the Five Ways to Well-being – Connect | Give | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Be Active – as well as raising awareness of the available supports and services in the county,” Chair of the Steering Committee, Donagh Hennebry, said.

“The Fest has a wide reach across Kerry and we want to continue to build on its success in 2021. But we can’t do this without you! We are inviting anyone who is interested in helping us achieve our goal, by hosting an event(s) during #KerryMHWFest, to register online as soon as possible.”

The organising committee is a collaboration between Connecting for Life Kerry, Healthy Kerry, Kerry County Council, the HSE, NEWKD, SKDP, Kerry Mental Health Association, Jigsaw Kerry, Munster Technological University/Kerry, and Kerry Volunteer Centre.

To register your interest to host an event for the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, visit www.healthykerry.ie before close of business on Friday, June 25.

For more information about registration, promotion, or the Fest in general, please contact the interagency steering group at: kerrymhwfest20@gmail.com.

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Free and subsidised higher education courses for Kerry

  11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry. The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in […]

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11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry.

The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in Retail Food Service Operations and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioeconomy with Business.

Over 10,000 places are available across both programmes nationwide in 2021.

Springboard+ provides free courses for people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill. Now in its 10th year, over 75,000 people have benefited from Springboard+ to date.

Courses under the HCI Pillar 1 programme are aimed at graduates and offer incentivised places for them to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course. The programmes are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”.

Helpline

Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on www.springboardcourses.ie. Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

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