Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses
If you have finished secondary school and would like to develop vocational and technological skills to get a job or to go into further education and training, the Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course may be the one you are looking for.
The Citizens Information Board has published a booklet called Information for school leavers that covers many of the practical questions about education and employment that you may have when you leave school.
It was announced in Budget 2023 that students getting the SUSI student maintenance grant (including PLC students) will get a double SUSI maintenance grant payment in December 2022 as a once-off measure.
In addition, students getting the SUSI maintenance grant will get an increase of either 10% or 14% in their grant depending on their maintenance grant band (from January 2023).
What is a PLC course?
Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are full-time programmes for people who have completed their Leaving Certificate and adults returning to education. The course lasts one to 2 years and leads to an award on the National Framework of Qualifications at NFQ Level 5 or NFQ level 6 – see NFQ below.
The courses develop technical and practical skills for an industry recognised qualification. They also offer an alternative route to higher education and can give you the opportunity to try out a subject of interest to you.
PLC courses take place in schools, colleges and community education centres. Almost half of the time spent on these courses is devoted to knowledge and skill training related to employment, with a further quarter spent on relevant work-based experience.
Most PLC courses are delivered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs). A wide range of disciplines are covered including:
- Electronics engineering
- Sport and leisure
- Theatre and stage
- Performance art
- Art craft and design
- Equestrian studies
- Multi-media studies
- Childcare and community care
- Hairdressing and beauty care
- Applied science
See 'How to apply' below for a link to Qualifax, the national learners' database, where you can search for PLC courses.
The qualification you receive at the end of your training will depend on the type of course you have chosen. Many of the 1-year PLC courses offer Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) accreditation at level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications, while other more advanced courses may offer QQI level 6, which can lead to further studies at third level. Other qualifications such as City and Guilds are also available. It is important to check out the qualification attached to a particular course before you decide to enrol.
National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
The National Framework of Qualifications is a single system against which all learning can be mapped. It allows learners to use their learning award to move from one qualification or qualification level to another within a system. For example, you could start with a PLC or other recognised course and progress to higher education.
Who is eligible for a PLC course?
In general, you should have finished your secondary education and completed your Leaving Certificate to be eligible for a PLC course.
However, you may be able to apply for a PLC course if you have not completed your Leaving Certificate. If you have work experience relevant to the course on offer or think you can demonstrate a particular ability in that area, you should write to the college where the course will take place. Explain your circumstances in the letter and ask to meet the co-ordinator of the course.
You may be eligible for a means-tested student grant or a Back to Education Allowance, depending on your circumstances. Our document on Grants for students in further and higher education describes who qualifies for a grant and how to apply.
PLC course fees
From September 2022, you do not have to pay a participant contribution fee. In previous years, the fee was €200.
Colleges offering PLC courses usually also have a 'course charge' to cover such expenses as books, uniforms, student services, professional registration fees and exam fees. The amount varies from college to college. Everyone has to pay the 'course charge'.
Asylum seekers and fees
The International Protection Student Scheme (for Further and Higher Education Students) 2022-2023 provides supports in line with the Student Grant Scheme to students in the international protection system.
You must be accepted on an approved Post Leaving Certificate course or other qualifying course to apply. Applications close on 30 November 2022.
How to apply for a PLC course
Use the national learners' database qualifax.ie to find the course in which you are most interested. Apply directly to the school or college offering that course. Because the courses are work-related, you will probably be called for an interview before a final selection is made. These interviews are often quite informal and offer you the opportunity to discuss your particular interest in the course.