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There are lots of options outside of CAO




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

The release of the Round 1 CAO Offers yesterday (Thursday) has meant that thousands of students are this weekend considering the college places they have been offered.

If you are not happy with your offer or not interested in going onto Higher Education, you have lots of options which are not based on CAO points. There have never been so many ways for students to realise their potential on leaving secondary school.

Further Education and Training

The Further Education and Training (FET) sector provides a variety of options across multiple career sectors through what are more commonly known as Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses as well as apprenticeships and traineeships.

Post Leaving Certificate Courses

Colleges of Further Education (FE) are still accepting applications for courses in a huge variety of subject areas including business, ICT, social care, childcare, law, beauty therapy, art and design, applied science, healthcare, law, engineering, multimedia, sport and much more. These courses provide students with QQI FET/FETAC qualifications which allow them to progress onto colleges and universities here in Ireland, the UK and Europe. The €200 fee to apply for PLCs was abolished in Budget 2022. To check out the full range of PLC courses available and to apply, check out For those who are interested in progression routes onto Higher Education in Ireland, take a look at QQI-FET Applicant section of


Apprenticeships are ideally suited to individuals who want to learn practical and technical skills and who prefer learning-by-doing and on-the-job training. Apprentices are also paid while training, so they are earning while learning. There are currently 66 apprenticeships available, with 17 more in development. They span across a huge variety of sectors including construction, arboriculture, electrical, biopharma, ICT, finance, insurance, logistics & supply chain, sales, agriculture, hairdressing, engineering, hospitality, healthcare, mechanics, auctioneering and recruitment. Apprentices are being recruited on an ongoing basis throughout the year across each sector. Typically apprenticeships run for between two to four years, depending on the type chosen. For further information on each apprenticeship and on current vacancies, check out and follow @apprenticeirl on social media.


Traineeships also provide workplace and skills based training across a variety of industries including business, health and social care, construction, engineering, transport and logistics, finance, hospitality, fashion and beauty, ICT and more. There are over 75 traineeships available nationally which start at various times during the year. More details can be found on and on

National Learning Network

The National Learning Network (NLN) offers specialist training and support services for students and adults who need extra support to progress in their education or into the workplace. Over 70 courses are available, delivered in 50 centres across the country, one based in Tralee, open to students from the age of 16 to 65 in areas such as business, catering, computers, horticulture, art and design, wellness, employability skills and much more. More information can be found on 

Direct Entry Courses

There are over 150 direct entry courses to various colleges across Ireland in a variety of areas of study and duration. These can be researched by using the Course Finder facility on 

Study outside of Ireland

There are still opportunities to apply for colleges in the UK and Europe. The UCAS Clearing system is open until October 18 which allows students to apply for vacant college places in the UK. See for details. Applications are still open for some colleges and universities in Europe, where entry requirements are often lower than similar options here in Ireland. See and for more details.

Repeating or taking a gap year

Deciding to repeat the Leaving Cert can be a difficult decision but for those who feel they can do better second time around it is well worth considering as a lot of the course content is already covered so it can make it easier to manage time and study a little better second time around, thus performing better in exams. Taking a year out is also worth considering to learn a new skill such as how to drive, earning some money, travelling, volunteering, getting some work experience, completing a short course and taking some more time to reflect in what pathway they are interested in taking at this point.

The National Parents Council Post Primary helpline 1800 265 165, will be open from 2pm to 8pm until September 14, where qualified guidance counsellors are on hand to answer queries from students, parents and guardians. There is also lots of helpful information on and

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 Careers Advisor. For details see or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. 



Photo of “hidden gem” wins Camera Club’s latest competition

A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition. Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the […]




A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition.

Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the Novice category, Iryna Halaieva’s photograph of O’Sullivan’s Cascade was deemed the winner.

“A waterfall is my favourite waterbody and long exposure is my favourite photographic technique,” she said. “I do my best to have as many waterfalls as possible in my photo collection. I heard a lot about O’Sullivan’s Cascade and wanted to visit that hidden gem of Kerry. So, shortly before our club competition I went with a friend to Tomies Wood to photograph it. It was a dream come true for me.”

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Corcoran’s Furniture walk raises €12k for autism charity

Corcoran’s Furniture and Carpets charity walk through the Gap of Dunloe on Saturday raised almost €12,000 for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland There were 37 participants in the event, which included […]




Corcoran’s Furniture and Carpets charity walk through the Gap of Dunloe on Saturday raised almost €12,000 for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland

There were 37 participants in the event, which included AADI families, dogs, and representatives, as well as fundraisers, supporters, and members of the Corcoran’s team. The stars of the day were the three life-changing super-hero dogs, Buzz, Baron and Hank.

Former Kerry Footballer, James O’ Donoghue, was the ambassador for the event
Those taking part left Ross Castle and were treated to a phenomenal boat ride in the expert hands of Diarmuid ‘Dux’ O’Donoghue of Gap of Dunloe Traditional Boat Tours. The O’Donoghue family entertained the entire group with a range of fascinating stories outlining the history of the lakes of Killarney and Killarney National Park.

The group set out from Lord Brandon’s Cottage and walked the 11K through the iconic Gap of Dunloe, with two AADI families and their dogs taking part in the full walk. This was followed by a well-deserved meal and some rest and relaxation at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. Flemings Taxi’s Killarney brought the group back to Ross Castle, Killarney upon completion of the event.

“On behalf of everybody at Corcoran’s Furniture, we would like to thank everybody who participated in our Gap of Dunloe charity event on behalf of AADI,” said Shane O’ Callaghan, Financial Controller atCorcoran’s.

“Collectively we have raised almost €12,000 for this incredible charity and monies are still coming in. We are extremely grateful to all who supported our walk, and also to James O’ Donoghue, Christina Tagney, the Gap of Dunloe Traditional Boat Tours, the fantastic support of Noel Lucey and Donal McCarthy from the Order Of Malta, Killarney branch, and to Killarney National Park, Kate Kearney’s Cottage and Fleming’s Taxi’s. All funds raised will go toward the expert training and maintenance of the upcoming AADI dogs who will make a dramatic difference to so many children with Autism and their families.”

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