Minister Harris announces important changes as CAO website enhanced to include further education and training options

8 Nov, 2021

On Friday, 5 November, Minister Simon Harris announced that the Central Applications Office (CAO) website will now include Further Education and Apprenticeship options for school leavers.

The announcement follows research carried out by Dr Róisín Murphy, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Surveying and Construction Management, which was published by the Construction Industry Federation  (CIF) last year. One of the CIF Apprenticeships Report 2020 recommendations was that apprenticeships should be included on the CAO website to encourage schools leavers to consider an apprenticeship as another valued option upon leaving school. 

Speaking last Friday, Minister Harris said:

“I really want to pay tribute to the CAO, Solas and ETBI for coming together to bring this to this point. This is an important day for this department and our third level sector.

“For the first time ever, the full range of third level options will be visible to school-leavers from one single platform. This will change the conversation at kitchen tables across the country – one that reflects education is for everyone and there is no right or wrong choice, just different ones.

“This is a major step but it is one of many we intend to take to make our third level sector more inclusive and one that delivers for all students.

"Across the country over the next few months, Leaving Cert students will be considering their next steps in life. We have so many industries offering diverse and interesting careers and there are so many ways to get there. If full time education isn’t for you, then we have options that are.”

The CAO website now has more than 650 PLC courses available via the weblink and a one-stop-shop for information and guidance on national apprenticeships will be available via a link on cao.ie/options with information on how to become an apprentice, what you will earn while you learn, and the qualifications you will achieve.

All applications for further education and apprenticeships will continue to be made through the traditional channels, though applicants will be able to navigate to these channels from the CAO website.

Speaking about the development, General Manager of CAO, Joseph O'Grady, commented:

"We are happy to facilitate the introduction of prominent links to further education and apprenticeships at www.cao.ie . We hope that this makes it easier for applicants to find out more information about all of the third level options available to them.

“The CAO website will continue to process applications to higher education only – this application facility opens today, and we encourage all those interested in applying for higher education to apply early and read the online CAO handbook before making an application.”

 

Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, said:

“This is a significant milestone for Further Education & Training and Apprenticeships given the focal point the CAO holds in the mind of the school leaver, as well as parents, teachers and guidance counsellors.

“Getting all of these options on the table alongside higher education choices when young people are discussing their next steps after leaving school can only help in making smart, rounded choices based on their skills and interests. It is also important that school leavers understand that Further Education & Training and Apprenticeships present new pathways into Higher Education.

“This exciting development would not have been possible without the collaborative, innovative work of the ETBs around the country, and I would like to thank them and the ETBI, as well as the CAO and HEA, for their ongoing commitment to the evolution of future choices for Irish students.”

General Secretary of Education & Training Boards Ireland Paddy Lavelle stated:

“These enhancements to the CAO website ensure that school leavers will have improved visibility of all their options and pathways, including Further Education & Training (FET) and Apprenticeships provided by the 16 Education & Training Boards (ETBs).

“I appreciate the collaboration and hard work of the Department of Further and Higher Education Research Innovation and Science, Solas and the CAO on behalf of the Universities and Institutes of Technology who worked with the ETBI team on this project. The openness of all partners to FET and Apprenticeship routes having parity with Higher Education reflects our shared desire to be inclusive.”

Beatrice Dooley, President of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) added:

“The IGC welcome this significant progress around the application process for FET and apprenticeship pathways.

“Since 2013 the IGC have recommended the creation of a centralised application platform where students can clearly see the range of progression options available to them through FET, HE and apprenticeship pathways. This will go a long way to achieve parity of esteem for all of these pathways in the mind-set of students and parents.

“The IGC welcome this significant progress around the application process for FET and apprenticeship pathways. Since 2013 the IGC have recommended the creation of a centralised application platform where students can clearly see the range of progression options available to them through FET, HE and apprenticeship pathways. This will go a long way to achieve parity of esteem for all of these pathways in the mindset of students and parents.”

Minister of State for Skills Niall Collins TD said:

“Part of the government’s commitment to delivering Housing for All is providing education and training to help people into the kinds of well paid jobs which are needed to meet our housing targets.

“Housing for All is a whole of government plan, and increasing the visibility of further education and training, including apprenticeships and lifelong learning, is an essential part of meeting the targets it presents.”