Adult and Community Education

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What Is Adult and Community Education?

Community education is adult education and learning that takes place outside of the formal education sector and aims to improve learning, empower people, and contribute to society. It encourages individualized learning and flexibility within the learning community.

The goals of the community education sector include not just individual development but also community advancement, especially in marginalised communities.

Adult and Community Education is necessary and important work. In every society, there are people at risk of social exclusion. There is rarely a single influencing factor. More often, it is as a result of a range of complex issues. Poverty plays a major role, but so too do unemployment, alcohol or drug addiction, mental illness, disability, level of education, and ethnicity. These factors are frequently interrelated, and it is often difficult to separate cause from effect. Therefore, effective assistance can be a challenge.

What Adult and Community Education Courses Are Available?

Students who want a hands-on career in social work, community care, and community development should do an applied course in Social Care, Social Work, or Community Studies.

Most Institutes of Technology offer Social Care degrees. Students will do modules such as Child Development Psychology, Addiction Studies, Legal Studies and Social Policy. Students also do work experience, and therefore must have Garda clearance. Most graduates work for government agencies or NGOs.

In addition, there is a wide selection of PLC courses in Social and Community Studies. Typical subjects include Applied Psychology, Child Development, Care Provision, and Legal Studies. Regular work experience is also common. Graduates can apply to degree courses. Alternatively, they can work in the private, public, or voluntary care sectors as special needs assistants, youth workers, child carers, and so on.

If you are more interested in the academic aspects of social care provision, a course in Sociology and Social Policy are good options.

Sociology is the study of social groups and the social phenomena that affect them. Students learn about issues such as social mobility, bureaucracy, crime, globalisation, and so forth. In addition, students learn theory and examine the work of thinkers like Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim. You can take Sociology as an Arts option. Many students do this in tandem with subjects such as Economics, Politics and History.

Social Policy teaches students to critically analyse contemporary social issues. Social Policy prepares students for careers in research bodies, state agencies, local government, and NGOs.

Studying Adult and Community Education Courses in College

These courses provides an excellent foundation for those considering a change in career towards adult teaching or for people employed in sectors where communication with adults in a learning environment is required such as libraries, galleries, museums, etc., or educational settings for rehabilitation and recovery.

Career Options

Social care practitioners work with, and advocate on behalf of a variety of social groups, such as:

  • Children and adolescents in residential care
  • People with intellectual disabilities
  • Alcohol and drug dependents
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Families in the community

Professional social workers differ in that their role includes managerial duties. Examples include arranging residential care, coordinating patient review meetings, and so on.

Social researchers use statistics (quantitative research) and interviews and focus groups (qualitative research) in to analyse issues such as equality of access to employment or social services in a particular area or socio-economic class.

Community workers work with groups of people to improve their lives and solve problems in the community. They work in communities that experience disadvantage. They enable people to identify their needs and rights, and assisting them in working towards these goals.

Related Jobs

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

  • Community education officer
  • Early years teacher
  • Education administrator
  • Education consultant
  • English as a foreign language teacher
  • Further education teacher
  • Learning mentor
  • Primary school teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
  • Special educational needs teacher
  • Teaching assistant

Jobs where your degree would be useful:

  • Careers adviser
  • Child psychotherapist
  • Counsellor
  • Family support worker
  • Health play specialist
  • Museum education officer
  • Play therapist
  • Private tutor
  • Youth worker


What are the characteristics of a good adult and community education worker?

Adult and community education workers must be attentive, selfless, and non-judgemental in their approaches. They must also be good communicators. They must support and protect to some of the most vulnerable and disaffected groups in the community. These groups include the homeless, sick, elderly, or newly immigrated. A course in Social or Community Work provides students with an opportunity to make a real difference.

Where Can I Study Adult and Community Education Courses?

Explore your options here.

Did You Know?

  • In 2016, 44.4% of people in the EU aged 25 to 64 took part in education and training, the majority of which participating in non-formal education and training.

Further Resources 

Irish Association of Social Workers

Department of Social Protection

Social Justice Ireland is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
Career Profile Languages: Working as a Translator and Interpreter


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