Northern Ireland news

Colleges urge young people to consider FE courses

THOUSANDS of young people, on receipt of GCSE results, will be considering their next steps. Many will pursue further education (FE). Here the north's colleges outline their menu of professional and technical skills courses.

Belfast Met in the Titanic Quarter. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE north's six FE colleges attract more than 153,000 enrolments annually.

They offer a range of educational and training options, which enable young people to learn skills relevant to a variety of jobs, or specialist qualifications.

Many courses have been designed in collaboration with industry.

Courses are open to students aged 16 and over. They range from Level 1 to Level 3 and include diplomas, extended diplomas and certificates. They are offered in a range of subject areas including business, health and social care, information technology, media, art and design and sport.

Level 1 and 2 are one year courses that can lead to Level 3, higher education or employment.

For pupils leaving school with five or more GCSEs, a Level 3 course is ideal. These generate Ucas points for entry to higher education.

In addition, the apprenticeship route is becoming more attractive for young people. As an apprentice, young people gain nationally recognised qualifications while earning a wage, combining practical experience with academic knowledge. Apprentices typically work four days a week and are released by their employer one day a week to attend college.

Apprentices can progress to Higher Level Apprenticeships in areas including computer science, motor vehicle, mechanical engineering and accountancy.

FE is often the first real step to independence. Students will meet people from all walks of life interested in gaining qualifications to pursue work or higher education. They do not wear a uniform, and can go off site during the day, but will be expected to follow the timetable for their course, time manage their course work, study and assignments. Most colleges embed Project Based Learning into their programmes which help prepare students for work, developing the right sills, attitudes and behaviours.

The health and wellbeing of all students are of paramount importance for colleges. There is a strong student support service available. Trained staff offer advice and guidance and if necessary, counselling on a range of issues. Staff will help students address concerns including personal and relationship issues, accommodation, finance, health, careers or anything else that affects their studies.

Colleges will be running information and results sessions in August for students receiving GCSE results and who need support and guidance with their next step.

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