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Finding alternative paths to where you’re going

Voice Of EU

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Did you miss out on the college course you really wanted? Or perhaps you’re looking at all the coverage of third-level and deciding it might not be for you? You have many other options and wherever you go it will be another stage in your education, rather than the end of it. Here we look at the experience of three people who took an alternative route to third-level.

Post Leaving Cert courses

When Niamh Dolan’s CAO offer came in, she hesitated. Was this what she really wanted?

“Over the summer, I’d been working for Tara Stud, ” she says. “I was really enjoying working with horses, and then I got an offer of business in TU Dublin. But I wasn’t ready, it wasn’t what I wanted to do and I wasn’t confident that I would commit to a business degree.”

Dolan spoke to her mother, who advised her that she couldn’t turn down a college course without some kind of plan.

“She understood that I didn’t want this course, but she didn’t want me doing nothing. All my friends were going to college and I wondered if I was making the right decision. A PLC wasn’t part of the plan at first, and I decided I’d continue with Tara Stud and finish out the foaling season. When that ended the following spring, Tara Stud suggested I go to Australia, where the seasons are reversed, and work with them. So at the age of 19, that’s what I did.

“Over there, I met loads of Irish people who had gone to college. Some had done equine science, some had done business courses, but they all talked about how they enjoyed it. So I contacted Dunboyne College, explaining I wanted to do their equine science course but didn’t want to cut my time short.”

Following her PLC, Niamh Dolan has just completed her first year on Maynooth University’s equine business course and is now working part-time with Aidan O’Brien
Following her PLC, Niamh Dolan has just completed her first year on Maynooth University’s equine business course and is now working part-time with Aidan O’Brien

Dolan was allowed to start the level-five course remotely as long as she returned for the Christmas exams. She spent two months in class before Covid-19 hit and learning became remote.

Like a lot of PLC courses, this one opened up a college place for Dolan, who has just completed her first year on Maynooth University’s equine business course. She is now working part-time with Aidan O’Brien, a top trainer with Ballydoyle Stables in Co Tipperary.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without the PLC,” she says. “It gave me confidence and bridged that huge jump between school and college. I even knew more about referencing than my college classmates.”

PLC courses are usually a year in duration, though sometimes run for two years, and are offered by education and training boards throughout the country. To see the full range of PLC courses on offer nationwide, check out fetchcourses.ie.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have come a long way in the past decade, expanding beyond their original focus on crafts such as carpentry, plumbing and motor mechanics to include qualifications such as accounting, international financial services, insurance technician, recruitment, biopharma, arboriculture and more.

Unlike a college course, which will cost you money, apprentices are paid while they learn both on the job and in class or virtual settings. Graduates of apprentice courses usually come out with a qualification between level six (higher certificate) and level eight (higher degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications, although some apprentice courses now run at level nine (postgraduate degree) and even level 10 (doctoral degree).

New apprenticeships come on stream all the time, and one of the newer options is the advanced healthcare professional apprenticeship at Griffith College Dublin, which recently had its first intake.

Unlike a college course, which will cost you money, apprentices are paid while they learn both on the job and in class or virtual settings. Photograph: iStock
Unlike a college course, which will cost you money, apprentices are paid while they learn both on the job and in class or virtual settings. Photograph: iStock

Jonathan Murphy is head of apprenticeship services at Griffith.

“This course has been a long time coming,” he says. “It’s designed to bring people’s formal qualifications in line with the experience of their work. In nursing homes, senior healthcare assistant roles are being created which provide higher levels of support for nursing staff but there wasn’t the progression opportunity. This new apprenticeship is a two-year, level-six programme leading to a higher certificate in healthcare support practice award.”

The Covid-19 pandemic delayed the rollout of the course because nursing homes, private hospitals and care settings could not release staff and it wasn’t initially possible to have students get the on-the-job training necessary. Now, however, it is up and running, with learners spending one day a week in the classroom and four days completing their workplace learning.

“Graduates will carry out the role of a healthcare assistant at a senior level, working with a registered nurse to create care plans for each individual and implementing the care plan with the team,” says Murphy. “They will apply anatomy, physiology, clinical skills, caring skills and responsiveness to people with dementia that takes into account the patient’s needs and background. It is a hands-on, senior role that involves supporting nurses with a mix of clinical and social care, and we’re looking for people who are caring, compassionate and empathetic.”

For more information on this and other apprenticeships, see apprenticeship.ie.

Traineeships

Adam O’Dea wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do when he finished school.

“I was burnt out from school and the Leaving Cert,” says the 22-year-old from Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co Clare. “I did a PLC in Galway Technical Institute, which helped me to realise that I wasn’t as interested in pursuing an academic career. My parents wanted me to do something that was right for me, and with my dad working as a tradesman and my mum a hairdresser, they understood what it is not to go to college and still be successful.”

Through a friend, O’Dea heard about a welding traineeship with Limerick and Clare ETB. “He seemed to really enjoy it, and so I went on to the coded plate traineeship. There were evening classes two nights a week and it was held locally, so I could get the bus in. On the course, we were given goals to reach independently, while also being supervised and supported. But we were always encouraged to find our own solutions. I was paid a grant during the training, and I have come out with a good skill that can get me work anywhere in the world – anywhere there is metal. I gained confidence and a belief in myself and my abilities.”

O’Dea is currently working with Brodeen Engineering, a metal fabrication company based in Tipperary.

Adam O’Dea is working with Brodeen Engineering, a metal fabrication company based in Tipperary
Adam O’Dea is now working with Brodeen Engineering, a metal fabrication company based in Tipperary

“Traineeships are a great example of work-based learning,” says Alan McGrath of Solas, the further education and training agency. “You spend a minimum of 30 per cent of your time on the job with an employer, and you get the technical skills and training you need while being face-to-face with colleagues, service users and clients – something you don’t get in the classroom. There’s a real responsiveness to industry needs because we know where the skills gaps are.”

Andrew Brownlee, chief executive of Solas, says that traineeships are a response to a changing world. “If you look at the world of work today, there won’t be the type of job where you work for 30 or 40 years and then retire, even in areas like retail, baking and construction which worked like that in the past. Unless you continually upskill and improve your digital skills, you won’t be able to move up the career ladder. Traineeships are a good start to a career, or a good way to upskill.”


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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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