Career Guidance Counsellor Rory White’s column series continues with a student guide to understanding the potential of the PLC option.
What are PLC courses?
Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are usually full-time, one year long, QQI courses comprised of eight modules. They are generally at Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications, though some may progress onto a second year for a Level 6. They provide learners with a qualification for entry level employment or progression to further study.
Where can I study a PLC course?
In Donegal there are several options run by Donegal ETB. Errigal College in Letterkenny offers eight courses in the areas of Business, Childcare, Sport, Art, Youthwork and Health Service Skills. Finn Valley College in Stranorlar offers three options- Business, Childcare and Sport, while St Catherine’s Vocational School in Killybegs runs PLC courses in Childcare and Nursing Studies. There are also PLC colleges in Sligo, Cavan and Monaghan, while some private institutions also have courses on offer.
How do I apply?
As PLC courses are not part of CAO, points are not required. Applications are free and can often be made directly with the school or college. More information can be obtained from any of the three schools, from Donegal ETB’s website and www.fetchcourses.ie.
Are there any costs involved?
PLC courses provided by Donegal ETB are subject to a €100 registration fee which covers the cost of books, photocopying and insurance.
There is also a government levy of €200 and a QQI examination fee of €50.
Medical card holders, SUSI grant eligible students and Back to Education applicants are exempt from the latter two costs. SUSI will continue to pay eligible students the grant if and when they continue on to college after the PLC course, providing the student is progressing up the framework ladder (i.e. from Level 5 onto a Level 6/7/8)
Why should I consider doing a PLC?
Some students may not feel ready to progress to college due to age or not being fully sure what they want to do. The Leaving Certificate may not have worked out for some students and very often PLC is a much better option than repeating. Some students might like to sample a career area before committing to a four year degree or are looking for a qualification that can lead into employment.
What are the benefits of studying a PLC?
PLC courses are excellent preparation for college as the modules operate in much the same way, a mix of assignments and exams, while ICT skills are also greatly improved. In the Communications module, common to all PLC courses, students learn presentation and interview skills which are excellent skills transferable to both college and the workplace.
Finally, a key element of PLC courses is the built-in work experience which must be undertaken in a related work environment. (E.g. A Business Admin student will work in an office setting) Work experience is usually one day per week however, some may take the form of block release.
What are my progression options after doing a PLC?
There are a huge variety of options for progressing after completing a PLC course. The Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) helps PLC graduates gain places in Higher education providers throughout the country by ‘ring-fencing’ places specifically for PLC applicants.
For students looking to progress locally, LYIT has done great work in recent times by creating many more PLC pathways onto their degree courses.
Another excellent option available to students which many people are not aware of is that there are up to 100 places set aside in the Arts degree at NUI Galway and Maynooth University for students who have completed certain PLC courses.
Some very high demand degree courses, for example Nursing, only accept specific PLC courses related to nursing, however there are well over 1,200 courses (and counting!) nationwide that will accept any PLC course for entry.
Anywhere I can get further information?
Again, as there are so many course-specific variations of pathways and requirements, your school Guidance Counsellor is the best person to talk to about the options open to you. www.qualifax.ie and www.careersportal.ie are two excellent websites where students can learn more about progression routes from PLC.
Rory has been a Guidance Counsellor at Finn Valley College for the past 10 years and is a member of the Donegal Branch of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors.
Applying for college or changing careers is one of the most important and exciting decisions someone can make, and Rory will be here to offer advice and top tips on the many options that are available.Tags: