If you have finished your secondary education in Ireland and would like to develop vocational and technological skills in order to get a job or to go into further education and training, the Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course may be the one you are looking for. The PLC is often seen just as a course for school-leavers. In fact, you will be also welcomed as an adult participant.
PLC courses take place in schools, colleges and community education centres around the country. There are now over 1,400 education centres registered with FETAC. The courses are full-time and may last for one to two years. They offer a mixture of "hands-on" practical work, academic work and work experience. They are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, as such, they are closely linked to industry and its needs.
PLC courses adopt an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience. Almost 50% of the time spent on these courses is devoted to knowledge and skill training related to employment, with a further 25% on relevant work-based experience.
Most PLC courses are delivered by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) (formerly VECs). A wide range of disciplines are covered including business, electronics engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, horticulture etc.
You can search the full list of available PLC courses using the CareersPortal PLC Course Search.
The qualification you receive at the end of your training will depend on the type of course you have chosen. Many of the one-year PLC courses offer Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) accreditation at Level 5. Other more advanced courses may offer QQI FETAC Level 6, which can lead to further studies at third level.
Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS)
The Higher Education Links Scheme 'links' specific FETAC Level 5 Certificates and some Level 6 Advanced Certificates to a number of reserved places on higher education courses and the Institutes of Technology. In addition to this, some higher education institutions operate an admissions criteria and scoring system for non-specific FETAC Level 5 Certificate and Level 6 Advanced Certificate applicants.
FETAC publish a document annually showing the progression from Level 5 and Level 6 Certificates to Higher Education courses at third Level [2013 edition pdf]. A copy of the 2013 Progression to Higher Education scoring system for eligible FETAC applicants is also available here.
Other qualifications such as City and Guilds are also available. It is important to check out the qualification attached to a particular course before you decide to enrol.
In general, potential students should have finished their secondary education and taken the Leaving Certificate examination in order to be eligible for a PLC course. However, candidates with work experience relevant to the course on offer or with a particular ability in the subject area, should write to the college where the course will take place. Explain your circumstances in the letter and ask to meet the co-ordinator of the course.
Student Fees and Grants
A new PLC participant contribution was introduced from the 2011/12 academic year. This charge is not payable by those eligible for the Student Grant Scheme. The following categories of PLC participants are also exempt from paying the contribution to the course provider:
PLC maintenance grants are available for students who are registered on PLC courses. These are set by the Minister for Education and Skills each year. The maintenance grant does not cover the charges for registration or examinations.
Note: Up until 2012, Irish nationals and nationals of other EU member states did not have to pay tuition fees for approved PLC courses. Certain other categories of students were also entitled to access PLC courses free of fees - see studentfinance.ie for full details.
In relation to the maintenance grant, apply online via SUSI.