Government needs to invest more in PLC courses – NAPD

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Ireland’s Post-Leaving Certificate education system is a success, but the government needs to increase funding for PLC courses. That’s according to the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD).

NAPD welcomed the news that over three-quarters of students enrolled in a PLC course progress to employment or further or higher education. These findings come from recent reports by the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) and SOLAS, the Department of Education’s further education and training body.

Every year, around 33,000 enrol in PLC courses. Of these, 78 percent progress to further education or employment. As a result, the PLC sector is one of Ireland’s most successful vocational educational programmes.

Greater investment and more flexibilty

The ESRI report states that PLC courses should be more closely aligned to the needs of industry and employers. The NAPD welcomed this, but argues that the PLC programme also needs additional funding as well as greater flexibility for teaching contracts and payment structures.

PLC teaching contracts are based on those which apply to the post-primary sector. However, the NAPD believes that the PLC sector should allow a wider spectrum of flexibility, skills and experience. This would include allowing industry practitioners to be part of PLC training courses.

“The positive results highlighted in these reports defy the PLC programme’s long history of under-funding and under-resourcing. To ensure that standards do not slip, SOLAS, working with the Department of Education, should immediately move to establish an Improvement Advisory Committee to develop and enact an improvement plan that prioritises better allocation of resources,” said Clive Byrne, director of NAPD.

Alternative pathway to education and employment

Currently, PLC colleges offer QQI Level 5 and Level 6 qualifications. These cover a wide range of subjects, including accountancy, business, electronics and software engineering. In addition, PLC colleges assist adults returning to education and employees who wish to upskill.

“PLC colleges offer students of all backgrounds an alternative pathway to skilled work and further education. Indeed, for many, a PLC course offers an escape from unemployment and a better quality of life,” said Byrne.

“The benefits of doing so are manifestly clear. With a skilled workforce, and a student body primed for further education, Ireland can supply the needs of its modern economy and attract further domestic and international investment.”


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