Further education: some options

From Moocs to lab work, there’s a wealth of adult and further education courses. Here’s just a sample

Top class: Ireland has a wealth of adult and further education courses. Photograph: Getty

Top class: Ireland has a wealth of adult and further education courses. Photograph: Getty



Moocs – massive open online courses – are, well, massive. They’re also free. Dublin Institute of Technology offers PharmacMooc.org, which is aimed at upskilling workers in the pharmaceutical industry. Now in its third year, it is run by Anne Greene of DIT’s school of chemical and pharmaceutical sciences; more than 1,800 students have participated.

Alison, a Galway-based company, has grown to become one of the leaders in free online learning, with more than six million registered learners and 750,000 graduates worldwide. More than 750 free online courses are available, covering areas including business, languages, digital literacy, information technology, psychology, sociology, ecology and healthcare.

Professional development

Dublin City University’s graduate certificate in sexuality and sexual-health education, the first of its kind in Ireland, is an example of where professionals might improve their skills. Starting this month, the level-nine certificate was devised with the Irish Family Planning Association in response to the HSE’s national sexual health strategy 2015-20, which includes a commitment to high-quality training.

The programme will focus on developing knowledge regarding the diversity of sexualities and culture, sexual-health education and sexual-health promotion, in addition to teaching and learning about sexual health. The overall aim is to develop competent sexuality and sexual-health educators and healthcare professionals. The part-time programme runs for one year. See http://iti.ms/2cvxSTU.

Routes to college

Students on pre-university science, Drogheda Institute of Further Education’s full-time 33-week course, need no formal education or qualifications but will be expected to demonstrate a moderate range of knowledge. Modules include maths, nutrition, biology, physics, chemistry, lab skills, anatomy and physiology. There is also a work-experience placement. Graduates have gone on to study science, biotechnology, sports science, agricultural science, forensics and more at universities and institutes of technology. Seefetchcourses.ie.

Career development

Bioinnovate in Galway has emerged as an international hub for the medical-devices industry, creating jobs for doctors, engineers, business and finance professionals, entrepreneurs, IT experts, scientists, marketers and more. Bioinnovate is a particularly interesting and innovative programme for adult learners because it is aimed at those who want to develop their career and learn new skills. Participants on this 10-month full-time course come from a range of backgrounds and, working with an expert mentoring team, spend a chunk of time in hospitals, identifying problems and developing solutions. See bioinnovate.ie.

Workplace learning

This month the Insight Centre for Data Analytics has launched the Insight Masterclasses lecture series. Experts in computing, electronic engineering, lifelogging, data visualisation and security, multimedia, web-mining and language processing are offering 30- to 40-minute free lectures that can form part of a company event or in-house activity. See Insight-Centre.org/ masterclasses or email masterclasses@insight-centre.org.

Post-Leaving Cert

Post-Leaving Cert courses are too often sold as a route to college, but they are a valuable qualification in their own right. Ballyfermot College of Further Education, for instance, has carved out a distinct reputation in art and media. For any student who wants to work in animation, its animation course is one of the best places to study in Europe. Graduates have gone on to big things, including working on Oscar-nominated films. Cathal Gaffney, managing director of Brown Bag Films and an Oscar-nominated director, is a BCFE graduate. See bcfe.ie.


One of the most successful Irish apprenticeships is also one of the most unsung: aircraft mechanics. Ireland’s aviation mechanics have won international awards for the quality of their work on light, rotary and large commercial aircraft. The programme has seven phases, four with an employer and three in colleges. See Solas.ie or contact your local education and training board.

Community education

At Wexford Training Centre a one-year full-time horticulture course is aimed at people who want to work in the horticulture industry or progress to further education and training. Call 051-301554.