Two local students are plotting their paths to college degrees after gaining an educational boost-up from Donegal ETB’s Youthreach programme.
Jessica McMonagle (21) and Callum Hall (19) both completed the Youthreach education, training and work experience programme after school didn’t quite work out the way they had planned.
They used the two-year programme as a stepping stone into third level. Now, they are both on the Access Programme at LYIT and are looking forward to progressing into their dream courses next year.
Youthreach is one of the many Further Education and Training (FET) programmes offered by Donegal ETB’s FET Service. Young people aged 16-20 who left school early and obtained little or no qualifications can benefit from the programme.
Students gain a range of national Level 3 and 4 Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) awards during the programme, which are on the same level at the Junior and Leaving Certificates.
Jessica and Callum both decided to do the Youthreach programme in the Lifford centre.
Jessica, who is from Lifford, did not get the results she wanted from the Leaving Cert. When she turned 18, she applied for Youthreach and now has the results she needs as she works towards starting a Childcare degree.
“Childcare is all I want to do,” Jessica told Donegal Daily. “I’m looking at a course here in LYIT next year.”
Callum, who is from Coleraine, moved to Donegal after obtaining his GSCEs.
“I never had a plan,” he said, “but I know I want to study something artistic or go into animation.”
During Youthreach, students explore a wide variety of subjects including arts and crafts, computers, childcare, hairdressing, office skills, woodcraft and personal development.
Jessica said she gained great insights from the work experience element: “I went to a playschool in Lifford, it was brilliant. I stayed with them for a month in July too, I loved it.”
Meanwhile, Callum learned from his work experience in a cafe and convenience store.
Looking back on the programme, Jessica said that the fun trips and events really stood out for her:
“The summers at Youthreach are brilliant. During June we went to different places, we walked the Stairway to Heaven and climbed Errigal.”
The learning element is not like school, the students said.
“The tutors and group are like a family. They don’t treat you like you’re in school, they treat you like a friend,” Jessica said.
Callum added that he liked the way the course was assessed: “Instead of exams we had continual assessment and briefs every couple of days.”
Callum recommends the course for young people who are not suited to school-style learning: “I would recommend it to people who go for the right reasons. For people who maybe had trouble in school and still want their qualifications. Youthreach lets you do it in a different way.”
The course also provides a weekly training allowance to support students on the full-time programme.
Jessica added that she gained more than certificates in the end: “It helped me with my confidence. I think it is a great base.”
Both students found out about the LYIT’s Access course through their Youthreach guidance counsellor, Lochlainn McCool, who helped them apply for their next step.
“Lochlainn helped us with everything to get us here,” Callum said.
Thanks to Youthreach, both Callum and Jessica, and some of their former Youthreach classmates, are enjoying the beginnings of college life at LYIT and looking ahead to seizing more opportunities in the year to come.
Donegal’s six Youthreach centres are now enrolling. If you, or someone you know, is thinking about joining the programme, you can find more information at this link: http://www.donegaletb.ie/schools-youth-services/youthreach/.
You can also call the Youthreach Centres on the following numbers:
- Ballyshannon (Aidan) – 071 98 51286
- Buncrana/Glengad (Jayne) – 074 93 62626
- Gortahork (Caitriona) – 074 91 35218
- Letterkenny (Gillian) – 074 91 22585
- Lifford (Aidan) – 074 91 42114
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Youthreach is co-funded by the Government of Ireland, the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.Tags: