Portlaoise College Institute of Further Education.
Nearly 80 % of people who enrolled in a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course progress to employment or further or higher education, according to new reports
The ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) and SOLAS, the Department of Education’s further education and training body carried out the reports.
Evaluation of the PLC Programme, Evidence for Policy (ESRI) and Response to the Findings of the Evaluation of the National Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) Programme (SOLAS), which reviewed the progress of the PLC educational programme, confirm that between 2011 and 2015, an average of 33,000 students annually enrolled in a course.
In terms of numbers, this makes the PLC programme one of the most successful vocational educational programmes in Ireland.
They found that 62% of PLC students received 200-400 points in their Leaving Certificate, indicating that for many, a PLC course was their first choice for further education. Some 31% received between 102-300 points and 31% received between 301-400 points.
PLC colleges offer Level 5 and Level 6 qualifications in a wide variety of fields, including software programming, accountancy, science, electronics, business, healthcare and engineering, as well as alternative pathways to full degree courses. They also offer opportunities to adults who have not completed their Leaving Certificate, those returning to education, and employees seeking to upskill in a particular area.
The report also noted the need for courses on offer to remain dynamic and aligned to the needs of industry and employers.
The Laois Offaly Education and Training Board is one of the main providers of adult education in Laois. More here
Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), said that the reports clearly demonstrate the important role PLC colleges play in education in communities across the country.
“PLC colleges offer students of all backgrounds an alternative pathway to skilled work and further education. Indeed, for many, a PLC course offers an escape from unemployment and a better quality of life.
“The positive results highlighted in these reports defy the PLC programme’s long history of under-funding and under-resourcing. To ensure that standards do not slip, SOLAS, working with the Department of Education, should immediately move to establish an Improvement Advisory Committee to develop and enact an improvement plan that prioritises better allocation of resources.
“The benefits of doing so are manifestly clear. With a skilled workforce, and a student body primed for further education, Ireland can supply the needs of its modern economy and attract further domestic and international investment.”
Cecilia Munro, chairperson of the NAPD’s Further Education and Training committee, also welcomed the reports, but said that many of the risk factors undermining the programme have been consistently highlighted by educators working in this sector.
“Despite the very positive findings of the reports, the PLC system has a number of structural flaws that must be addressed as a matter of urgency. These include the uneven geographical spread of course provision, especially in rural areas; a lack of capital investment; a lack of appropriate admin, IT support and guidance counselling; and the lack of appropriate senior management team structures.
We equally recognise and accept that industry has to play a greater role in the design and delivery of PLC courses, but this will require greater flexibility around teaching structures in the sector. Developing a role for industry practitioners who can bring their real-time knowledge and experience to PLC courses will ensure that students are armed with the most up-to-date and in-demand skills, when they begin their job search,” she said.