Leaving school

Information for school leavers

The Citizens Information Board has published a booklet, Information for school leavers (pdf). It covers many of the questions about education and employment you may have when you leave school. It also has information on managing your money, paying tax and accessing health services.

I want to go to university

If you intend going on to third-level education when you leave school, you can find out how to apply to college. The Central Applications Office (CAO) offers places based on Leaving Certificate results. If you have a disability you may be eligible for the DARE access route and if you come from a disadvantaged background you may be eligible for HEAR.

A new pathway to a degree is provided by the Tertiary education programme. You do not apply through the CAO. You start your degree programme in a further education college and finish it in a higher education (third level) college or university.

You can find out about fees and supports for third-level education.

I want to learn skills for work

Another option when you leave school is a further education and training (FET) course. FET courses can give school leavers the skills for work.

You can apply for an apprenticeship to be trained in a traditional craft apprenticeship such as plumbing or carpentry or a new apprenticeship such as accounts technician.

Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses can develop your technical and practical skills for an industry-recognised qualification.

Youthreach also runs paid training courses for early school-leavers.

The Right Course is an online portal with information on further education and training places, higher education courses and information if you are on a social welfare payment and want to begin a course.

If you are planning to learn or work in Europe, you can use Europass to search for qualifications, courses and learning opportunities in other EU countries.

Starting work

If you are taking up a job, you should familiarise yourself with your employment rights. Find out about minimum rates of pay , contracts of employment , holidays and leave, particularly if you are starting work for the first time. You may also plan to work abroad.

Page edited: 13 November 2023