Leaving school marks a significant milestone on your career journey. It's also a crossroads - with many possible pathways lying ahead. In Ireland, most students choose to continue their education by going to college using either the Further Education (FET) or Higher Education (HET) routes, but there are other options available too:
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An increasing number of Irish students who choose the Higher Education route are opting to study abroad. Along with the UK, USA and Australia/New Zealand, many European colleges now teach their programmes through English.
Many students will choose to get a job and start earning money right away. Opportunities for school-leavers often exist in the Retail, Banking, Accountancy, Insurance and Manufacturing sectors for example. Some of these options will include going to college as part of the employment contract (Earn and Learn) - which means you get paid while you do your Degree!
Another popular destination is working with Government Bodies - these include the Civil Service, the Defence Forces, the Gardaí, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Teagasc, or state companies such as Coillte. Many of these organisations include significant further education as part of the training for the job, sometimes to Degree level.
Apprenticeships are another popular choice for school leavers, though in recent years there have been a disappointing lack of opportunities available. However, the future looks a bit brighter for apprenticeships as the government is finally putting some effort into creating more opportunities in the next few years.
Fortunately, most of these pathways will be available throughout your future, so if you start off along one route and it doesn't work out, you can always continue your journey along a different pathway from wherever you are at the time!