Former Portlaoise-based councillor Alan Hand is among many adults who have succeeded in using the Leaving Cert to get back to education.
Adult learners celebrated their Leaving Cert results this week among them was Alan, a former Sinn Féin politician. He received his results alongside his 18-year-old daughter.
Mr Hand, who also worked as a Portlaoise traffic warden, was an early school-leaver and, after becoming unemployed in 2013, decided to return to education, aged 37, through the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme run by Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board.
“Adults are not taking their situations lying down, they are upskilling, getting new qualifications and preparing themselves for future employment.
“It is an extremely tough decision for young people at the age of 16 or 17 years old to decide what they would like to do with their future. Often teenagers slip through the net but, for those who missed the opportunity to access education the first time around, there are other options out there,” said the Dublin native.
Congratulating adult learners receiving their Leaving Cert results, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “In Ireland, 21 per cent of people aged 25 to 64 have never completed upper secondary-level education, so it’s not surprising that a high number return to education to complete the Leaving Cert each year.
“For somebody who may have been out of formal education for a long time, or who has had negative educational experiences in the past, it is a huge step to return to learning and to participate in Leaving Cert exams”.
For adults looking for further education and training options, the One Step Up website (onestepup.ie) details learning opportunities that are available in Ireland. Adults may also call the Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669.