A key goal for my Department is to enhance the visibility of further education and training (FET) and apprenticeship options for school leavers and the changes to allow school leavers explore options across the third level system, whether in higher education, further education or apprenticeship options, from the CAO website is an important development.
Within the FET sector, a central portal has been developed to enable learners to apply for their chosen courses, from over 700 courses which have been updated in terms of course naming conventions and learner requirements. This is being managed through FETCH / PLSS (which is a central application system for FET courses delivered through Education and Training Boards throughout the country).? Technical experts from SOLAS and the CAO are working together to ensure that technology developed for FET in the short-term aligns with CAO systems to enable integration over time. The further development and expansion of the CAO FET offers to include wider options will build on the experience of the 2022 application process. By 11th May there had been 16,290 visits to to www.fetchcourses.ie directly from the CAO website.
For apprenticeship options, where students can be hired by approved employers throughout the year, the CAO website links to www.apprenticeship.ie, a one-stop-shop website for information and guidance on apprenticeships. There were a record 8,607 new apprentice registrations last year. There were 28,758 visits to apprenticeship.ie from the CAO website by 11th May. There is also a freephone number available - 1800 794 487 for guidance on apprenticeships which is open 12pm-6pm Monday-Friday. There have been over 500 calls to the helpline since November 2021.
A briefing session for guidance counsellors was also organised by ETBI and SOLAS to provide information on apprenticeship options. Collectively, these measures will increase awareness of and access to apprenticeship programmes.