Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses
If you have finished your secondary education 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 PLC is often seen just as a course for school leavers. In fact, adult participants are also welcome.
The Citizens Information Board has published a booklet called Information for school leavers (pdf) that covers many of the practical questions about education and employment that you may have when you leave school.
Budget 2022: The Post Leaving Certificate participant contribution fee of €200 will be removed in 2022/2023.
What is a PLC course?
Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are full-time programmes for young people who have completed their Leaving Certificate and adults returning to education. The course lasts one to two 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. The courses offer a mixture of practical work, academic work and work experience. They are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, as such, they are closely linked to industry and its needs.
Post Leaving Certificate courses adopt an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience. 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.
In general, you should have finished your secondary education and taken your Leaving Certificate examination in order 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.
Each learner must pay a participant contribution of €200 per year.
You do not have to pay the contribution if:
- You hold a full medical card in your own right
- You are the dependent child of a full medical card holder
- You are eligible for a student grant
- You are getting Back to Education Allowance or a VTOS allowance
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. Students who are exempted from the participant contribution will still have to pay the course charge.
Asylum seekers and fees
From the start of the 2021/22 academic year, international protection applicants who have permission to work and want to access a PLC course will no longer have to pay international fees of €3,600.
How to apply
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.