Skip to content

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that is not answered here? You can dowload the One Step Up information booklet for free here, email us by clicking here or call our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669.

Click on the plus symbol (+) to see the answer to each question.

You can get free help with these skills from the National Adult Literacy Agency in Ireland (or 'NALA'). They offer free courses that are led by tutors. You can do these in a classroom at an Adult Learning Centre, online, or even over the phone.

To find out more, you can:


Your local Education and Training Board or Community Education Centre can also help you with reading and writing. Visit the Find Your Local Service section of the Adult Literacy for Life website for contact details in your area.

The organisation AHEAD can help you understand the support available for you. They try to make education and employment more inclusive for people who have disabilities or different abilities.

AHEAD provides information to learners and graduates, teachers, guidance counsellors and parents. Visit the 'Accessing College' section of the AHEAD website for information.

The National Learning Network (NLN) provides a range of flexible training courses for people who have extra support needs. They can help you enhance your quality of life if you experience health conditions, illness, disability or other challenging circumstances. The NLN has a wide range of further education and training programmes. These include business and computer skills, graphic design, art and leisure studies. The NLN has the facility to recognise previous learning, so that it counts towards a full qualification. Visit the National Learning Network section of the Rehab website for more information.

Yes. You can speak to an Adult Education Guidance professional in your local Education and Training Board. This person can help you explore your options, and give you information about courses. The service is free and confidential, and gives priority to people who are unemployed. Visit the Services section of the Adult Guidance Education website to find a service in your area.

If you are unemployed, your local employment service or Intreo office can give you information about your options. 

The website has a full list of all Further Education and Training (or 'FET') courses available in Ireland.  You can search by keyword, location and category.

The website CareersPortal has special sections designed to help you decide what to study or how to develop your skills. 

If you plan to do a full-time course but also need to care for a child under 15, you may be able to get help with costs. Visit the National Childcare Scheme section of the Citizen's Information website for information.


You could also consider an online or blended course. This means you don't have to travel to a different location. You could do a short online course in a subject such as data science or computer programming through eCollege, funded by SOLAS.  You could also do a short or full-time course through the Open University. Qualifications range from certificates, diplomas and short courses to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees: Visit the 'Courses' section of the Open University website for information. The Open University has an office in Dublin that you can contact at  

It means that the course leads to a qualification at that level. In Ireland, all qualifications are mapped out in a 'national framework'. The framework has levels from 1 to 10. For example, the Junior Certificate leads to a qualification at 'Level 3'. A Master's degree is at 'Level 9'. Visit the National Framework of Qualifications section of the QQI website for information.

Speak to the Adult Education guidance service in your local ETB to find Further Education colleges where you can study.  Visit the Services section of the Adult Guidance Education website to find a service in your area. You may be able to study one subject at a time, or several at once. You can visit and search for 'Leaving Cert' to see some options.


If you want a qualification equivalent to the Leaving Cert, but you don't want to sit the exam, you could do a Further Education course instead. In Ireland, all qualifications are linked to a 'national framework' of levels from 1 to 10. The Leaving Cert leads to a qualification at 'Level 4' and 'Level 5'. Further Education college offer courses at these levels.   

You might be able to do a course as a 'mature student'. Third-level colleges reserve a small number of places each year for older learners. You could do a full-time course where you go to classes or lectures along with other learners. You could also do a part-time course, or complete a few course modules at a time. Every course and college has different entry requirements, so you will need to contact the college where you would like to study to find out more. The 'Applications office' or 'Admissions office' are good places to start.

Visit the Mature Students section of the Citizen's Information website for information.

If you have a qualification from another country, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (or 'QQI') can help you find out if it is similar to an Irish qualification. Visit the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications section of the QQI website for information.

If you want to improve your English language skills, your local Education and Training Board (or 'ETB') may offer special courses at low cost. These are often called English for Speakers of Other Languages (or 'ESOL') or English for Beginners.  The website has a full list of all Further Education and Training (or 'FET') courses available in Ireland.  You can search by keyword, location and category. Visit and search for 'ESOL' or 'English for Beginners'.

The website Listen Here has free online lessons in English and Irish for people living in Ireland, or planning to come here.

You can also do a course in a private language school. Private language schools will charge course fees, which may be expensive. Visit the English Language Schools section of the ESL Base website for information.

If you are seeking asylum in Ireland, The Irish Refugee Council's Education Fund can help pay for educational needs. This could include course fees, transportation costs and educational materials. The fund is usually open for applications in July. Grants are offered in August for courses running from September to the following May. Visit the Education section of the Irish Refugee Council website for information. You can also download a useful Guide to Further and Higher Education in Ireland.

Places of Sanctuary Ireland may also be able to help you access education in your community. This could be at school, further education or university level. Places of Sanctuary is a network of groups across Ireland that promote a culture of welcome for people seeking asylum.

The website is a good place to start. You can search by keyword and look for short courses in areas like languages, Information Technology, yoga or creative writing. Education and Training Boards co-ordinate many of these courses. You may have to pay a small fee to take part.


You could also look in your local library, community centre, Family Resource Centre or local area partnership. Many Active Retirement Associations run classes too. Visit the 'Find a Local Group' section of the Active Retirement Association website for more information. 


You could also try volunteering.  Volunteering often offers new learning opportunities as well as the chance to share your skills with others.  Visit the 'Volunteering Opportunities' section of the Volunteer Ireland website for more information.  


Remember that most courses begin recruiting in January and September each year. Keep an eye out for open days and opportunities on the One Step Up Calendar.

Yes, there are!


If you are between 15 and 20 and don't have formal qualifications, you can take part in Youthreach. You can develop your English, maths and life skills. You can also focus on reading, writing and spelling.


If you are over 21 and have been getting certain social welfare payments for at least six months, you can take part in the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (or 'VTOS'). You can attend full-time courses operated by Education and Training Boards. You can keep your social welfare payment or get a VTOS allowance while you take part. Areas you can study include Art and Design, Business Administration, Childcare and Digital Media. Visit the VTOS section of the Qualifax website to find out more.


If you have been getting social welfare payments and want to go into part-time or full-time education, you can take part in the Back to Education Programme. You could study for the Junior or Leaving Certificate, or do a course at a university or college. You can receive an allowance while you study or keep your social welfare payment. Talk to staff in your Intreo office to find out more.


If you are unemployed and want to do a Higher Education certificate or Master's degree, you can take part in Springboard. You will have no course fees and may be able to keep your social welfare payment while you study.


If you are leaving school, looking for your first job, or if you would like to change job, you can do a FET training course. Most courses are free and you may be able to get a training allowance if you need it. The website has a full list of all Further Education and Training (or 'FET') courses available in Ireland.  You can search by keyword, location and category. 


If you plan to do a full-time course but also need to care for a child under 15, you may be able to get help with costs. Visit the National Childcare Scheme section of the Citizen's Information website for information.


If you want to improve the skills you need for work, you can get free training through the Skills Connect programme. Visit the Skills Connect section of the Skillnet Ireland website for information.  


Visit the Education and Training Supports section of the Citizen's Information website for information about other options. 

If you would like to work, while also getting a qualification,
an apprenticeship may be a good option.

An apprenticeship is a training and education programme. It mixes learning in a college or training institution with work-based learning in a company. At least half of apprenticeship learning is done on the job.

As an apprentice, you earn while you learn. You have a formal employment contract, and you're paid a salary during your apprenticeship training.

Apprenticeships can last between two and four years. There are 56 different types of apprenticeships available, in 13 different industries.

Apprenticeships also lead to internationally recognised qualifications. These can be from level 6 to level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

There are a variety of apprenticeships on offer from traditional crafts (Carpentry, Electrical, Toolmaking, and Motor) to new apprenticeships in
Insurance Practice and Industrial Electrical Engineering. The new apprenticeships are very flexible and range from two to four years. Traditionally, an apprenticeship received a NFQ level 6 award but newer apprenticeships are offered from levels 5 to 9 on the NFQ.

An apprenticeship is the recognised way people are trained in a craft trade or profession. The main craft trades and professions have been designated by SOLAS and come within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system, which is organised by SOLAS in co-operation with the Department of Further and Higher, Research, Innovation and Science, employers and unions. An Apprenticeship Council is also in place.

An apprenticeship provides on-the-job training with an employer. It usually alternates between off-the-job training in an education centre and on-the-job training at your employer's workplace. An apprenticeship generally lasts for 2 to 4 years, during which time you will spend different periods in off-the-job training.

What do I need to become an apprentice?
Depending on the apprenticeship there will be different entry

• At least Junior Certificate (or equivalent) but many require Leaving Certificate (or equivalent)

• For some craft apprenticeships you will be required to pass a colour vision test

• A pre-apprenticeship course or at least three years relevant work experience approved by SOLAS, may also be considered

• You must be employed in your chosen occupation with an approved employer. A bursary is available to employers who recruit females into designated apprenticeships

How do I apply?
Search for an apprentice position on or contact the apprenticeship section in your local Education and Training Board.

Visit for contact details.

Generation Apprenticeship

Useful resources:

  • WITNI is an independent grassroots initiative that celebrates working Irish tradeswomen and those seeking careers in the skilled trades. Visit

  • For more information on apprenticeships contact the apprenticeship section in your local Education and Training Board. For contact details of your local ETB see Contact.

  • You can explore the various apprenticeships currently available using our CareerExplorer, where you can view details on all apprenticeships, and even check out those that are in development and expected to be available soon. Details such as the course content, training involved, and links to where the vacancies are advertised are all contained in each of the 50+ Apprenticeship profiles available. To view all Apprenticeship options: Click Here


More information

More women in apprenticeships than ever before

With a 114% increase in women in apprenticeship in the last 2 years, and numbers growing year on year, women are becoming a big part of the 21st Century Apprenticeship story. To view success stories Click Here

Additional gender diversity bursary

An additional bursary of €2,666 will be extended to employers who currently have 80% apprentices of one gender to encourage greater diversity in trades.

On the flip side, more than 80% of hairdressing apprentices are women, so the same incentive would apply to boost the number of men entering this profession.

A €5,000 bursary programme to help 100 apprentices each year from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as lone parents, people with disabilities, Travellers, and Roma, will also be rolled out.

To find out more get in touch with your local Adult Education Guidance and Information Service

Back to top