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 Elaine McGarrigle from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Elaine McGarrigle

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Elaine McGarrigle

The most important skill that a person in my position can have is communication.

One needs to be able to communicate effectively with people of all levels in order to do a days work. I think that this is the most important quality, to be able to fit in well with people, everyone from the operators to the senior management, one needs to be able to read them and how best to communicate with them.

An interest in basic engineering and in the heavy machine industry.

It is important to realise that working as a mechanical engineer in Irish Cement does not generally involve sitting at your desk all day. It involves alot of hands on, on-site work so a person needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty.

Another quality that is important is to be willing to learn. Even after a number of years in college, one needs to be eager to learn the ins and outs of a new environment; how cement is made, what equipment is involved, what generally goes wrong and how it is fixed.

Everyone will help and teach you but you need to open your mind and be prepared to take it all in.


The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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New LC Points Scale 2017

A new grading scheme for the Leaving Certificate 2017 is now in place.

The new grading scheme applies to students who commenced Senior Cycle from September 2015, and who are sitting the Leaving Certificate examination from 2017 forward.

The new points system has been integrated across the CareersPortal website and the REACH+ Career & College Preparation Programme. We have also developed new points calculators for both Leaving Cert and QQI - FET students to assist them in calculating their points according to the new scheme.

Explore the new 2017 points Leaving Cert Points Calculator here


New examination grade levels will be in place from 2017 onwards. Under the new system, the percentage grade acheived in a Leaving Certificate exam paper will be valued as follows:


The Common Points Scale (CPS), used by the CAO to determine entry into higher education institutions, has also been revised. The table below shows the CAO points values for use from 2017 onwards:

Bonus Points for Maths

25 Bonus points will be added to the points score for Leaving Certificate Higher Level Maths.

  • Students achieving agrade H6 or higher will have 25 Bonus Points added to their total score for Honours Maths - the grade itself does not change.
  • No bonus points are given for H7 in Honours Maths, or for any Ordinary Level Maths grade.

NOTE: The 25 Bonus points for Honours Maths are not counted unless Maths (following the addition of the bonus points) is included in the top six subjects counted for the purpose of calculating CAO points.


7 Subjects taken Level Grade LC Score
Irish Higher H2 88
English Ordinary O2 46
Maths Higher H5 56+ 25 = 81
French Higher H6 46
Biology Higher H3 77
Geography Ordinary O3 37
History Higher H5 56
Best 6 Scores shown in BOLD Total Points = 394

Source: CAO Handbook 2017

An A2 poster available from presents the new points as follows:


  • The six best results, in recognised subjects, in one Leaving Certificate examination will be counted for points
  • Only one sitting of the Leaving Certificate Examination will be counted for points purposes
  • In the case of certain subjects, e.g. Home economics (General), Foundation Level Maths, Foundation level Irish, some HEIs may not award the points shown above. If in doubt, check with the admissions office of the HEI in question.
  • Students must also meet the minimum entry requirements in order to be considered for a college course place.


In terms of Foundation Level courses, some Higher Education Institutions accept Foundation Level courses and have awarded LC points for foundation level Maths.

Universities do not award points for Foundation Level. The IOTs are currently considering a conversion for 2017. [Details will be added here when they become available.]

Note: Students should always check the points value and acceptance criteria for foundation level subjects with individual HEI providers.


From 2017, the Universities and Institutes of Technology are also introducing new basic matriculation requirements to take account of the new grade scheme:

  • The current 2 higher level C3 grades and 4 ordinary level D3 grades - in 2017 becomes 2 H5 and 4 O6/H7 grades.
  • The current 5 ordinary level D3 grades - in 2017 become 5 O6/H7 grades.
  • Current 3 higher level C3 grades and 3 ordinary level D3 grades - in 2017 becomes 3 H5 and 3 O6/H7 grades.

LCVP - Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme

From 2017 LCVP grades will be aligned as follows:

QQI - Further Education and Training (FET) Changes

The points awarded for achievement in both the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) and QQI-FET (formerly FETAC) awards are also being revised to maintain the current equivalences.

Preview the New QQI - FET Points Calculator here:

For QQI-FET awards the maximum possible total score of 360 (120 credits x 3 for a distinction) is currently multiplied by 10 and divided by 9 to give a maximum overall points score of 400.

From 2017, this maximum possible total score of 360 will be multiplied by 13 and divided by 12, to give a revised maximum overall points score of 390 for applicants from further education and training.

Leaving Certificate pre-2017

Students who sat the Leaving Certificate before 2017 will be awarded revised points as set out in the tables below. In line with the decision to awards points to students who achieve a grade of H7 under the new Leaving Certificate grading scheme, students who achieved an E grade (25-39%) at Higher Level under the earlier grading schemes will from 2017 be awarded 33 points.

The points available under the new scale cannot be directly compared with the points awarded currently. An entirely new scale is being introduced from 2017 and all students applying through the CAO from 2017 will be awarded the new points, no matter when they sat the Leaving Certificate. This means that all students applying through the CAO will be on a level playing-field.

The points which will be awarded to students who sat the Leaving Certificate from 1992-2016 are as follows:

Pre-1992 Leaving Certificate students will from 2017 be awarded points as follows:


ViewNew Leaving Certificate Grading Scale and Revised Common Points Scale (IUA, IOTI, September 2015) [pdf]

View: New Common Points Scale for Entry 2017 (CAO) [pdf]

For comprehensive details of the new measures coming into effect in 2017 as part of the Transition Reform Programme, see also 

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