Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Sinead Kenny from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Sinead Kenny

Design Engineer

Smart Futures

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  Sinead Kenny
If it is possible to get some work experience during the summer holidays or weekends, it would be great. Find out if there are any positions (voluntary or otherwise) available in your local IT or University. Get involved in a hobby such as model making, this would be very helpful as it would help with dexterity & impart an understanding of the ways in which different materials interact when assembled together.
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Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
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Adult Learner

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Qualifications & Levels +


In Ireland, most qualifications fit into what is known as the The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). This framework divides all qualifications into ten levels. It can be useful to think of it as a ladder system; entry at the bottom is at Level 1 and Level 10 is at the top.

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The range of Levels include different types of qualifications:

  • Basic Education (Levels 1-3) 
  • Certificates and Diplomas (Levels 4-7) 
  • Undergraduate Degrees (Levels 7-8) and
  • Postgraduate Qualifications (Levels 9-10)

Awards on each Level are sub-divided into Major, Minor, Special Purpose and Supplemental awards, each according to the amount of time and learning completed.

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The structure of the Framework (NFQ) is based on levels and award types, which are outlined in the diagram above.

Ten award levels indicate the standard of learning (ranging from the most basic to doctoral awards).

There are four award-type categories, which serve as an indicator of the purpose, volume and progression opportunities associated with a particular award.

A major award is the main class of award made at any given level; examples of major awards include the Leaving Certificate, a QQI major certificate or an honours bachelor degree.

A minor award provides recognition for learners who achieve a range of learning outcomes but not the specific combination of learning outcomes required for a major award. A minor award is linked to a major award.

A Special Purpose award is made for very specific purposes; an example of a special-purpose award is site suitability for wastewater treatment.

A Supplemental Award is for learning which is additional to a previous award; it could, for example, relate to updating and refreshing knowledge or skills, or to continuing professional development.

Click here to learn more about different types of awards

Completion of a Major award at each level usually means you can progress to the next, so the framework helps you to build up your education and training, thus improving your employment prospects. So it is always advisable to find out what level the course you are interested in is at and if it is a full Major award or one of the lesser awards. 

Click here to learn more about the different levels and their indicators

ED ZONES and links to Job Zones

On CareersPortal we classify courses according to their educational zone. This is a simple 5 level classification system that ties in closely with the JOB ZONEs used to classify occupations on this site. In effect, if a job or occupation is classified as Job Zone 3, then it typically requires a person to have qualifications in Ed Zone 3 or Level 6 on the NFQ. (See diagram above)

  Hint: Smart Futures
I would like to learn sign language so I can impart my enthusiastic talks and workshops to the hearing impaired.
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