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Post-Leaving Certificate courses

If you’ve finished your secondary education and are thinking about developing vocational or technological skills to get a job, a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course could be for you.

studyingThey are designed as a step towards skilled employment and so they are closely linked to industry and its needs.

PLCs are based on an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience.

Who are they for?

PLCs are sometimes seen as just available to school-leavers, but you can also attend as an adult participant. 

The courses are full-time and last for one to two years, ofering a mixture of “hands-on” practical work, academic work and work experience.

They can also be a way to step into further third-level education, such as diplomas or undergraduate degrees.

Nearly half the time spent on these courses is devoted to knowledge and skill-training related to employment, with a quarter of the time spent on relevant work-based experience.

What subjects are covered?

Over 90% of PLC courses are delivered by VECs (vocational education committees). Each county or region has its own VEC and currently over 1,000 courses are on offer in some 229 centres.

A wide range of disciplines are covered including business, electronics engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, horticulture etc.


Many of the one-year PLC courses offer Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) accreditation at level 5. More advanced courses may offer FETAC level 6, which can lead to further studies at third level.

Other qualifications such as City and Guilds are also available. Check out the qualification attached to a particular course before you apply.

PLC Grants

A maintenance grant scheme for PLC is available. The maintenance scheme is means-tested and grants are paid along the same lines as the current third level student support scheme. Grant applications are available from local VECs.

How to apply

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, 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.

Find the course in which you’re most interested and apply directly to the school or college offering that course. Because the courses are work-related, you could be called for an interview before final selection.

These interviews are often quite informal, offering you the chance to discuss your interest.

Try for more information.

This article was last reviewed on 02 August 2017

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