We cannot afford to send our daughter to university. What are her options?

The new apprenticeships in accounting and insurance offer great on-the-job training


My daughter excels at business subjects and is interested in a career in finance. She has applied to the CAO, but is reluctant to commit to the high cost of studying a business degree at university. She will not receive a grant, as we fall just outside the income limit threshold. Have you any advice?


There are a wide variety of routes into the world of business other than through the CAO.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton recently launched his action plan for education with an emphasis on the expansion of apprenticeships and traineeships by 2020.

A major shortcoming of the Irish education system, driven by parental and student demand, has been the neglect of on-the-job training in favour of academics.

In 2014, Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) launched a higher-level apprenticeship programme in Northern Ireland, and a similar programme is offered through five colleges in the Republic, including Blackrock, Bray and Rathmines further education institutes, Cork College of Commerce and Monaghan Institute.

Applicants to the accounting technician programme contact ATI directly and – if they meet the minimum criteria – are referred on to potential employers in industry, accountancy practice or the public sector, where they can be recruited for two years and automatically enrolled in the appropriate further education college.

This is a fully-funded, four-day per week work-based programme with one day in college, where students would earn a salary as they work towards their professional qualification.

Students are mentored throughout the employment period. At the end of the two years, graduates can progress on to Chartered Accountants Ireland exams, and secure a full level nine qualification after three more years. (Applications should be directed to Naomi Lopez, nlopez@accountingtechniciansirealnd.ie)

Another option in the field of financial services is the insurance practitioner apprenticeship.

This launched last September and results in a level eight (honours degree) after three years: a BA in insurance practice.

The benefit of completing this apprenticeship over a college course is that at the end of three years, graduates will have work experience under their belts in addition to their academic qualification.

Apprentices will also earn the insurance industry’s professional qualification, the professional diploma in insurance in addition to their BA degree.

From a financial perspective, third-level students would pay €3,000 per year for registration fees, but apprentices will only pay a reduced €600 and all study materials are covered by Solas.

Interested applicants should register their interest now (careers@iii.ie) and can apply directly with employers once applications open in March/April.

As with all level eight degrees, entry requirements are 2 H5s and four ordinary level passes in Maths and English/Irish, but you can also check your eligibility and register on their website (careers.iii.ie/apprenticeships).

The 2017 programme will begin in September with up to 150 places available around the country.

Finally, many financial institutions are now beginning to recruit school-leavers directly and supporting them with the appropriate banking and finance exams while they work. AIB are among those currently recruiting young people such as your daughter.