Further Education and Training

In Ireland, the area of VET is referred to as Further Education and Training (FET). FET is used to describe education and training which occurs after second level schooling, but which is not part of the third level system. FET offers a wide variety of life-long education options to anyone over 16 years of age. This includes part / full time courses, face to face, blended and online learning options at a range of levels. Courses are delivered through Colleges of Further Education and ‘dual provision’ post primary schools offering ‘Post Leaving Certificate’ (PLC) courses as well as  courses in Community and Adult Education centres, Training centres, Youthreach and Community Training Centres, Prison education services and in local area service centres among others. 

FET includes provision of core Literacy, numeracy and digital skill development and is renowned for delivery of dynamic, labour market driven practical, employment related learning opportunities such as specific skills training, Apprenticeships and Traineeships. FET also has an important role in offering academic skill development courses, ‘general learning’ programmes for adults and courses for adults considering career development or career change, offering ‘upskilling’ or ‘reskilling’ options. FET courses are provided at Levels 1 to 6 on the National Framework of Qualification (NFQ). With priorities of engagement and community provision, FET is placed along the ‘Learner Journey’, prioritising accessibility, serving local needs, meeting emerging training and skill development demands for enhanced employability. A significant priority for FET in Ireland is the promotion of community and social engagement, facilitated by the learner centred approach, nurturing competencies, fostering inclusion, and promoting equity. FET is a creative, flexible sector ready to adapt in order to provide opportunities from ‘job readiness’ to ‘community engagement’, ‘inclusion’ while promoting progression to higher education – all are objectives of FET in Ireland


An apprenticeship is a recognised programme of training (varying between 2 and 4 years) by which people become trained craftspersons or professionals.

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job employer-based training with off-the-job training in training centres and educational colleges around Ireland and lead to awards at Levels 5 - 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).
Apprentices are employed under a formal contract of apprenticeship.

The Further Education and Training authority SOLAS is responsible for apprenticeship on behalf of the Government and liaises with employers and education providers.

The apprenticeships system in Ireland is currently being revised and modernised, informed by industry led consortia. Recently over 20 new apprenticeships have been introduced in Engineering, Electrical, Construction and Finance, with more planned. This is in addition to established apprenticeships in the more traditional trades, for example, engineering, construction, motor, electrical and furniture.

For a full list of apprenticeships available to date in Ireland, please refer to the link below:


Applying for an Apprenticeship in Ireland:

  • A prospective apprentice must be over 16 years old. 
  • A prospective apprentice is generally expected to have a minimum of 'grade D' in 5 subjects in the Irish Junior Certificate or equivalent exam
  • A prospective apprentice may be asked to pass a colour-vision test for some apprenticeships.
  • A prospective apprentice (from aboad) may be required to provide evidence of language competence in accordance wth locally applied English language requirements (see - https://www.ielts.org/what-is-ielts/ielts-for-study)
  • It is the responsibility of the apprentice to find an employer with whom they can serve their apprenticeship.

Further higher educational qualifications and other requirements MAY be additionally be required by employers.

An apprentice without some of these qualifications MAY still register as an apprentice with an employer if they:

  • Complete an approved preparatory training course followed by an assessment interview
  • Are over 18 years of age and have at least 3 years of relevant work experience, in which case you will also be asked to do an assessment interview

The educational requirements vary for each apprenticeship and it is recommended to check with https://apprenticeship.ie/career-seekers/get-started/discover for further information and application information.

Funding / Payment:

  • Generally Apprentices do not pay fee
  • Apprentices are not eligible for student grants
  • Apprentices attending a Higher Education Institute (HEI) for off the job training will be liable to pay a registration fee to the HEI
  • Your employer will pay you for the duration of the apprenticeship - the rate of pay is agreed between you and your employer

Additional Information on Apprenticeships in Ireland:








Irish 'Post Leaving Certificate Courses' (PLCs)

PLC courses are dedicated, full time courses of one/ two-year duration, provided through Irish Colleges of Further Education (CFEs) or, where a CFE is not available, delivered in local Post Primary Schools. PLC Courses are available to School Leavers and Adult Learners. A one-year PLC course generally leads to a QQI Level 5 course on the National Framework of Qualifications, while a two -year PLC course generally leads to a QQI Level 6 course on the National Framework of Qualifications.

PLC courses are designed to include practical and academic assignments, field trips, team projects and work experience. The qualification can lead to employment but can also be used as a bridge to further education and training.

Courses are delivered in a wide range of subjects, from General studies, Community and Social care, Computing and Technology, e-Commerce, Horticulture, Business, Childcare, Multimedia Production, Sports and Leisure, Performing arts, Equestrian studies, Hotel and Catering and tourism with new - labour market informed - courses regularly provided.

How to Apply for a PLC course:

Application is made directly to the College of Further Education.


The requirement for full economic fees does not apply for EU/EEA eligible applicants.

Individuals for EU/EEA states have the same entitlements to education as Irish citizens. Colleges are required to confirm the status of any applicant from an EU/EEA state prior to making an offer of a place on a course, by referencing to proof of identification. Only the following can be accepted as proof of identity in such circumstances:

  • Passport (from country of citizenship)
  • National Identity Card for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

Queries regarding eligibility for enrolment for EU/EEA applicants must be forwarded to the local ETB/ College of Further Education.

Finding a PLC course:

Further education programmes are run by both public and private colleges and institutions and lead to awards validated by the Irish government’s awards agency Quality Qualifications Ireland (QQI), as well as awards validated by a range of Irish, UK and other international awarding bodies.