My daughter has no guidance counsellor. Where can she get expert career advice?

Ask Brian: Schools have a legal obligation to ensure pupils have access to guidance

There is no need to panic or rush to make a decision. Your daughter has until July 1st to make her CAO course choices. Photograph: iStock

There is no need to panic or rush to make a decision. Your daughter has until July 1st to make her CAO course choices. Photograph: iStock

 

My daughter is sitting the Leaving Cert in June but has had no career guidance since the school guidance counsellor left two years ago. She can’t make up mind what to choose and I’ve no expertise. How can we support her to make the right decision?

Your daughter isn’t on her own. There has been a shortage of qualified guidance counsellors which is linked to an austerity-era decision by the Government to abolish ring-fenced guidance-counselling posts to schools.

However, schools are now well on the way to restoring these posts, with rising numbers of teachers taking on postgraduate training required by the Department of Education to qualify as guidance counsellors.

Notwithstanding these shortages, school principals have a legal obligation – under section 9 (c) of the 1998 Education Act – to provide your daughter with appropriate guidance during her time as a student in their school.

If no qualified person is available to take up the hours allocated by the department for guidance counselling, there is a legal and moral responsibility on the school board of management to ensure students are not disadvantaged in making the life-shaping decisions.

The school could, for example, get in touch with the Institute of Guidance Counsellors and ask that it contact any recently retired members in your area who might be prepared to provide one-to-one support over the remainder of the academic year.

The IGC would also be able to provide details of their private practitioner members in your locality, which the school might be able to contract as an emergency measure over the coming months.

Real-life experience

In the meantime, it is worth checking the Qualifax website, which has full details of every course on offer through the CAO and further education.

If she wants to get some insight into the world of work following her third-level or further education studies, she should check the Careers Portal website to get an overview of the real-life experience of those working in sectors of the Irish economy.

These websites should help your daughter get some insights into options available to her.

There is no need to panic or rush to make a decision. Your daughter has until July 1st to make her CAO course choices, and opportunities in further education and apprenticeships will be available well into late August, following the release of Leaving Cert results in mid-August.

Email queries to askbrian@irishtimes.com