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PLC courses are training people for jobs that don't exist

Hairdressing, early childhood care, and community services courses show a far greater number of places available on PLCs compared to the actual number of jobs available.

shutterstock_735181627 Source: Shutterstock/Mihail Pustovit

IRELAND’S POST LEAVING Cert courses, commonly known as PLCs, have too many people enrolled in areas where there are too few jobs, a new report claims.

The study, Evaluation of PLC Programme Provision, by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), was compiled in order to give better insight into the opportunities currently being offered by PLCs. Over 32,000 students were enrolled on PLCs in 2015, while about €160 million is spent on the programme each year.

It found that there is a great deal of diversity in the kind of courses being offered under PLCs, but that the manner of course available does not bear any relation to the population or job market in the area in which it is being offered.

It also found that young people from disadvantaged areas, who are at the greatest risk of unemployment, do not have higher-than-average access to PLC support.

The key findings of the report are:

  • The provision of courses is more driven by student demand than employer requirements
  • Courses do not appear to be highly responsive to changing labour market conditions
  • Participants in PLC courses are ‘disproportionately female’
  • The majority of people enrolled on PLC courses count getting a job immediately as their primary objective
  • Despite the variety of PLC courses available, ‘undoubted challenges’ exist in building up engagement, and recognition of qualifications, between institutions and employers

By way of example, in 2012 17% of PLC courses were services-related (eg hairdressing, fitness-related). However, the ratio of places on courses to hairdressing jobs is 2:1.

For childhood care and education the ratio of places to jobs available is less satisfactory again at 4:1.

“The results clearly indicate that the annual enrolment levels greatly exceed the number of jobs likely to be available for completers,” the report states.

Responding to the report’s findings, Minister for Education Richard Bruton has committed to implementing over 40 of the report’s recommendations, including:

  • Employer engagement to become mandatory for new course proposals in order to provide for specific jobs
  • Ensuring that all future courses will lead to full awards per the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
  • More flexibility to be offered to students, including on-line modes of delivery
  • 500 PLC places to be allocated nationally for new pre-apprenticeship courses for those planning to learn a trade

“I am determined to increase the range and quality of the pathways for people to fulfil their career ambitions during my time as minister,” Bruton said at the launch of the report this morning.

If we want to be the best in Europe, by 2026, we need to ensure that we provide many different opportunities for people to achieve their ambitions.

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