Learner Stories

Each year over 300,000 adults in Ireland take part in further education and training.  Here are stories from five adults who returned to education or training for different reasons. 


‘If you’re willing to take that tiny step, people are there to help.’

Noeleen left school with her leaving certificate and went on to get married and raise a family.  She experienced a lot of difficulties in her personal life and in 2010 she had a complete breakdown.  She became very socially isolated and was struggling to bring up her family.  The Home School Liaison officer in her local area told her about the ‘Partners in Education’ Programme delivered by Dún Laoghaire ETB .Through this course, her confidence has soared.  She is now studying graphic design and developing new career opportunities in that area. 


‘I’m living proof it can be done.’

Joe left school at aged 14 with no formal qualifications.  He began working in the construction sector managed to get by with very low levels of literacy. It wasn’t until his step grand daughter needed help with her homework that he realised how much his lack of education was affecting his life and his self esteem.  He completed his Junior Cert last year and achieved a B in English, he is now aiming for an A in English in the Leaving Cert and he says that returning to education has opened up his world.  There is no stopping him now. 


‘I can now help my daughter with her homework, I’ve made friends and learned new skills.’

Waldemar is Polish, and came to Ireland in 2006.  He was one of many Polish people employed in the construction sector.  But when he lost his job in 2008, he found it difficult to find other employment.  He wasn’t very confident about his English language skills and this made it even more difficult for him.  A friend of his told him about Warrenmount Community Education Centre, where he improved his English language skills, and discovered an interest in web design.  Now he’s studying web design at Pearse College. 


‘Further education gave me the skills to set up my own business.’

Seamus left school at aged 15 with no formal qualifications.  He became an apprentice at a young age.  Over the following years he did various jobs and was a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’.  He moved to Spiddal in Galway, where he signed up for a further education course which he heard about through BIM.  The course included a module on seaweed, which got him thinking about a business opportunity.  Together with his wife he set up Rí na Mara, a successful Irish company which produces seaweed cosmetics.  Seamus says that further education really helped give him the practical skills needed to set up his own business. 


‘Everything is online now, you have to be able to get online.’

Paula left school at 14 with no formal qualifications.  She worked for a long time as a chefs assistant in a pub.  When she lost her job and signed on the Live Register she was overwhelmed with the number of forms she had to fill out.  Her local Adult Education Officer helped her to sign up for an intensive course in basic education (ITABE).  She is now learning how to use a computer, and hopes that she will soon be able to skype her son in Norway.   

Take your next step with further education and training or contact 1800 303 669 to find out what opportunities are open to you.