Francis O' Toole Author – Careers Ireland

Students' embarking on their career journey – Is Féidir linn

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Careers News

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 21, 2018

  1. Global Warming and Disease Proliferation
  2. Guide to CAO Choices
  3. Creative Coding for Maths Makers
  4. Advanced Entry to the second or subsequent year of an undergraduate degree
  5. IT Sligo Masters in Social Work
  6. New course in Creative Writing for Digital Media
  8. Counselling And Psychotherapy Training 
  9. Europass Europe
  10. Office Administration Course
  11. College of Sciences & Health Open Day


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Walking On Air

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 14, 2018



Out on sale now

  • A page turner book about resilience
  • Short stories and poems to support positive approaches to life
  • Personal stories to support authentic  reflection on life

“All profits from proceeds of the book to go to help the Peter McVerry trust, a charity working to reduce homelessness

Purchases Walking On Air

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CAO – 2018 – 4 Most popular courses

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 14, 2018


The Central Applications Office (CAO) has today released 2018 application data up to the Change of Course Choices closing date of 1st March. Latest CAO figures show what sectors applicants chose for their first preference. A total of 72,643 applications were received by CAO by the 1st February closing date, this was a decrease of 4.5% on 2017 applications. Mature student applications were also down by 1,168 – a 12% drop from 2017.

The upturn in the economy with more job vacancies and greater availability and uptake of apprenticeships may account for some of the decrease in college applications this year. Mature students may also have been drawn to the increased opportunities available through Springboard+.  However, the number of applications may still increase as the late application process will be open (with restrictions) until 1st May.

Examined by subject group, the initial Level 8 data shows some valuable insights. The data released by CAO gives an indication of the sectors that attracted most interest this year. So here is a list of the risers and fallers of 2018.

The Risers

  • Education: Last year saw a 2% decrease in the number of applications applying for courses in education. There was speculation that two-tier pay scales may be off-putting for applicants but this year there has been a 4% increase in applications to education courses dispelling that theory. Figures released show  8% increase in first preference for primary school teaching and 4% increase in secondary teaching. Applications for secondary teaching programmes in DCU alone have gone up by 13%. The points for teaching dropped slightly in 2017 and perhaps this has prompted a surge in teaching applications.
  • Biological and Related Sciences: This has been a sector of continuous growth in recent years with many biopharma companies choosing to locate to Ireland. Projected levels of employment in biopharma are very promising and it is anticipated that employment in the biopharma industry will reach 33,200 in 2020. First preference choices for Biological and Related Sciences has gone up by 10% this year.
  • Engineering: Good news on the engineering front with an increase of 6% in first preference choices. Engineering applications were down last year which resulted in a significant drop in points for many engineering courses. Fortunately, the interest in engineering has been restored this year. There is an acute shortage of engineering professionals in Ireland and the sector is enjoying a period of growth. Issuing work permits outside the EEA has been necessary to fill these vacant positions.
  • Agriculture: First choice preferences in agriculture are up by 6%. Good news for the agri – food industry that has experienced growth and will continue to expand. The National agri-food strategy Food Wise 2025 is working to create 23,000 new jobs in this area.

The Fallers


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Subject choice – going to college

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 14, 2018

Going to College: Important tips for making your Leaving Cert subject choices

Right now, schools across the country are asking their third year and transition year students to choose the subjects they would like to take for Leaving Cert. These are important decisions, but students often get caught up focusing on entry requirements for college. This can lead to them feeling overwhelmed and can result in mistakes being made.

In reality, colleges have less complicated requirements than one may think, as well as a number of entry routes to most career options. It makes better sense to choose subjects that will assist the student in achieving the best results they can. This will give the student more options in the future.

I’m my opinion, subject selection has a great influence on how a student performs at Leaving Cert overall and here are three considerations which will help any student make good choices:

Choose subjects you enjoy

Every subject at Leaving Cert is challenging. Most schools offer five class periods a week or three hour-long periods for each subject. In addition, students should be doing two to three hours further study in their own time. This means a lot of time engaging with individual subjects. By choosing subjects which they enjoy, students will find this less of a challenge and even enjoyable.

Students are likely to perform better in subjects they enjoy, resulting in higher grades, higher CAO points and, therefore, more options after Leaving Cert. Students are also likely to pursue third-level courses related to subjects they enjoyed at school.

Consider subjects you are good at

One way students can maximise their results is by playing to their strengths. It is likely that by choosing subjects they are good at, they are also choosing areas they hope to study or work in in the future. Consider Junior Cert results if they are available. It is important not only to look at the subjects in which they achieved the highest grades, but also why students performed best in these. Perhaps the subject was taught by a favourite teacher, perhaps a large project component helped. Many students may also have participated in some aptitude testing – consider these results and discuss them with someone who is able to interpret them, such as a guidance counsellor. Other testing is available on

Subject requirements

Subject requirements for entry to third level are often less complex than originally thought. If students have ideas about what they would like to study after school, they should research the entry requirements for these courses thoroughly in a variety of different institutions.

If students are not yet clear on what they would like to study at third level, they should research the requirements for a number of different areas and consider common themes. This can be done on where students can enter key words that will produce a list of relevant courses and their descriptions. Some Leaving Cert subjects are never required for college entry. Students should pay particular attention when considering their choices in the areas of languages, sciences and technical subjects.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin


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Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 5, 2018

Irish higher education is home to two of the world’s top nursing courses, according to the latest world university ranking. The QS World University Rankings by subject, released on Wednesday, ranks the world’s top universities for the study of 48 different subjects.

This year’s edition sees UCD achieve Ireland’s highest position (24th) for veterinary science.It is one of six subject areas where Irish institutions placed in the world’s top-50 this year.

Ireland’s six top-50 subjects are split between Trinity College Dublin (four) and University College Dublin (two). Other top-50 subject areas include nursing at TCD (25th), classics and ancient history (28th), English language (28th), politics and international studies (43rd), and nursing at UCD (31st).

Overall, Ireland’s strongest subject is nursing, with four universities in the global top 100.

Ireland’s strengths also lie in the arts and humanities (11 top-100 placements) and life sciences and medicines (10 top-100 placements). However, they also reveal weakness in the subjects relating to engineering and technology (only one top-100 placing).


In total, 10 Irish universities are featured 127 times across the 48 subject tables, with 30 improvements recorded. However, once Trinity College Dublin’s improvements are excluded, the number of drops in rank recorded by Irish institutions (22) exceeds the number of improved performances (10).DCU’s communications and politics programmes were rated among the top-200 in the world.

Globally, Harvard University is again the dominant institution, ranking number-one for 14 subjects. It extends its lead over Massachusetts Institute of Technology (12 number-one departments).


The only other institution to take more than one number-one position is the University of Oxford, which remains top for four subjects. In total, Asian institutions rank in the top 10 thirty times, 12 of which are attributable to Singapore’s institutions. The UK’s universities remain resilient in the face of Brexit, taking 10 number-one positions.

Article sourced from

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Air Corps

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 5, 2018

The Air Corps is now accepting applications for the Apprentice Military Aircraft Technician scheme. Successful candidates will become an integral part of the Air Corps maintenance team providing technical support to the Air Corps fleet.

The closing date for this competition 23.59Hrs on May 25th, 2018.

Who we want

Technicians provide the maintenance and servicing of Air Corps weapons, equipment and aircraft. The Air Corps is looking for young, enthusiastic and technically minded individuals who are looking for the opportunity not just to learn a new trade but also practice it in challenging situations.

Trainee Technicians undergo their academic training at the Technical Training School, located in Casement Aerodrome, the home of the Air Corps.


Successful candidates will graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Military Aviation Technology Level 7 (Tech), accredited by the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

Read more about the job and training of Air Corps Technicians here

Apply online here.


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Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 5, 2018

DARE deadlines are looming, but you don’t have to be eligible to get supports in college

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh1
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

CAO applicants should have noticed that they were asked to declare if they have a disability or specific learning difficulty. Information provided in this section of the form allows higher education colleges to contact applicants to obtain further details about their needs and gives the institution the opportunity to advise individuals on the supports available to them during their studies.

Once an applicant indicates their disability through the CAO application, they will be given the opportunity to apply for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) programme.



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1 March – HEAR – CAO

Posted by Francis O' Toole on March 5, 2018

HEAR is a programme to assist applicants from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds in accessing third-level education. It allows reduced points entry to courses, as well as a variety of academic, personal and social supports while studying.

For example, some colleges provide academic support in certain subjects while others prioritise HEAR students for on-campus accommodation. Orientation programmes, academic guidance and bursaries and scholarships are also commonplace.


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More than 6,000 students drop out of college in first year

Posted by Francis O' Toole on February 20, 2018

Highest drop-out rates in construction, computer science and engineering courses

Students on UCD’s campus: Overall non-progression rates of 15 per cent compare favourably to international rates. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Students on UCD’s campus: Overall non-progression rates of 15 per cent compare favourably to international rates. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

One in six third-level students – or 6,200 a year – are dropping out of their college courses during their first year, according to the latest official figures.

Drop-out rates are highest in construction, computer science and engineering courses, especially those offered at institutes of technology.

The figures are contained in a report to be published today by the Higher Education Authority based on students progressing from first to second year between the 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years.

It says overall non-progression rates of 15 per cent compare favourably to international rates.

It also notes that the proportion of students failing to progress has dropped slightly – down 1 per cent over the past five years – despite rising student numbers and budget cuts.

Drop-out rates also vary across different sectors and types of higher education institutions.

Non-progression rates are highest at level six (advanced certificate) and level seven (ordinary degree) courses, where the proportion of students dropping out is between 25 and 26 per cent. These courses are typically delivered at institutes of technology rather than universities.

These rates fall to 16 per cent among students completing level eight (honours degree) courses at institutes of technology and 11 per cent at university.

When broken down by institution, IT Blanchardstown had the highest non-progression rate (29 per cent).

In fact, almost half (47 per cent) of students undertaking level-six courses dropped out, while more than a third taking level seven course (35 per cent) did not progress on to second year.

Non-progression rates

Other high non-progression rates were recorded at Limerick IT (27 per cent) and IT Sligo, Letterkenny IT and Galway-Mayo IT (25 per cent).

Dublin Institute of Technology and Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) had the lowest rates at 17 per cent each.

Among universities, Dublin City University has the highest rate (13 per cent), followed by NUI Galway and University of Limerick (12 per cent). Trinity College Dublin and Maynooth had the lowest rates (9 per cent).

The findings show a strong link between a student’s CAO points and their chances of progressing at third level, with low achievers much more likely to drop out.

While the overall non-progression rate is 15 per cent, this rises to 32 per cent for students who secured between 255 and 300 points in their Leaving Cert. It falls to 7 per cent for students who obtained between 555 and 600 points.

The study also found that, among socio-economic groups, the lowest rate of non-progression was among those from farming family backgrounds (9 per cent), followed by higher professionals (10 per cent).

Two groups

These are the two groups with the highest level of access to higher education in Ireland.

The highest level of non-progression is among the “manual skilled” and “all others gainfully employed” at 16 per cent.

Medicine had the lowest non-progression rate of new entrants at 3 per cent, along with education courses – typically teacher-training – at 4 per cent.

Construction-related courses, services, computer science and engineering had the highest non-progression rates.

The report notes there have been improvements in computer science, with dropout rates falling from 20 per cent to 16 per cent.

Dr Graham Love, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, welcomed improvements in the progression rates of computer science students.

Retention initiatives

He said additional funding allocated to retention initiatives – such as maths enabling courses, peer mentoring and additional tutorials for computer science – were contributing to the improvements”.

“While the figures are stable over time and comparable with competitor countries, lower progression rates in key skill shortage disciplines such as construction, computer science and engineering, where mathematics content is high, remains a source of concern,” he said.

Policy-makers say reforms to the points system – which aims to reward students for taking higher level papers and reduce the risk of random selection for college entry – are aimed at supporting a better transition from second level to higher education.

In addition, higher education institutions say moves towards broader entry – preventing students from having to decide, at an early stage, what specialism might suit them later in life – will help to ease pressure on students and reduce the drop-out rate.

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Top skills needed

Posted by Francis O' Toole on February 20, 2018

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released The Future of Jobs report revealing the top 10 skills you’ll need by 2020.

The world of work is changing and adapting at speed to catch up with the rapid and continuous advances being made in technology. We are transitioning into an era that has been dubbed ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (known as Industry 4.0). The Technological Age is squeezing out manual labour and it is predicted that by 2020 (only two years away!) over five million jobs will be replaced by automated machines.

This is a daunting prospect for many but it doesn’t need to be bad news; like previous industrial revolutions many jobs will be sacrificed but many new jobs will also be created. A lot of these new jobs can’t even be imagined right now. According to a report issued by theWEF almost 65% of the jobs primary school students will be doing in the future do not even exist yet. Both the workforce and our knowledge base are rapidly evolving.

So what can you do to safeguard your future as an employee? Think of the skills that cannot be automated. What sets us apart from a robot? If you consider some sci-fi movies from the past such as AI: Artificial Intelligence, Blade Runner and more recently Her, all these films explored the rise of the robot and how they threatened the human race. But in all the films the robots ultimately failed. They were inferior because technology could not replicate human qualities, both cognitive and emotional. So think of soft skills, what you can’t teach a computer to do, these are the skills you need to focus on. If you can’t think of any, fear not the WEF have identified them for us as revealed in the infographic below this article.

Cognitive Functioning Skills

These skills include complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. The transition will bring disruption to industry and challenges that require managers to ‘think outside the box’ to find creative solutions. The digital age is creating an abundance of data. Analytical skills are required to make sense of this information to make important decisions.

Human Connections

Rapid change creates challenges and makes big demands of managers and employees. Leaders require good people management skills and strengths in judgement and decision making to co-ordinate their team. Collaborative work on agile teams will be the way forward. All these changes will require workers to have self awareness and good emotional intelligence. Soft skills so far cannot be replicated by machines so it is in the interest of jobseekers to nurture these crucial skills. The good news is that soft skills aren’t built into your personality, emotional intelligence can be developed. Unlike IQ which is believed to be static your EQ grows with you. So the more practice you get the greater empathy and understanding you can bring to your relationships. Robots aren’t empathic so exploit your emotional intelligence to ride out this revolution.

Notably the 10 Skills of the Future cited by the WEF are all transferable skills so can be used in many roles. Working on these skills now will prepare you for the changes coming down the line. It is never too early (or too late) to start working on identifying and developing your skills.

Thousands of second-level students engage in work experience to get their first taste of the world of work. CareersPortal invites students to identify the skills they utilised in their work placement and be in with a chance of winning a MacBook Air and €1,000 for their school. This exciting competition promotes the importance of Career Skills and encourages the value of career research. It gives students the chance to reflect on the skills they developed during their work experience, and how those skills can help them in their future career.

To find out more about this competition click here.

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