There aren't enough hairdressing and childcare jobs for people in PLC courses

A new ESRI report has recommended a lots of tweaks to the current system.

By Team

IRELAND’S POST LEAVING certificate courses, commonly known as PLCs, have too many people enrolled in areas where there are too few jobs, a new report claims.

A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has been compiled to give better insight into the opportunities currently being offered by PLCs.

Over 32,000 students were enrolled in PLCs in 2015, with roughly €160 million spent on the programme each year.

The report found that there is a lot of diversity in the kind of PLC courses being offered, but that the manner of course available does not bear any relation to the population or job market in the area in which it is being offered.

It also found that young people from disadvantaged areas, who are at the greatest risk of unemployment, do not have higher-than-average access to PLC support.

The key findings of the report are:

  • The provision of courses is more driven by student demand than employer requirements
  • Courses do not appear to be highly responsive to changing labour market conditions
  • Participants in PLC courses are “disproportionately female”
  • The majority of people enrolled in PLC courses count getting a job immediately as their primary objective
  • Despite the variety of PLC courses available, “undoubted challenges” exist in building up engagement, and recognition of qualifications, between institutions and employers.


By way of example, some 17% of PLC courses were services-related, such as hairdressing and fitness-related, in 2012. However, the ratio of places on courses to hairdressing jobs is 2:1. For childhood care and education, the ratio is 4:1.

“The results clearly indicate that the annual enrolment levels greatly exceed the number of jobs likely to be available for completers,” the report states.

Responding to the report’s findings, Minister for Education Richard Bruton has committed to implement over 40 of the report’s recommendations, including:

  • Employer engagement to become mandatory for new course proposals in order to provide for specific jobs
  • Ensuring that all future courses will lead to full awards per the National Framework of Qualifications
  • More flexibility to be offered to students, including online modes of delivery
  • 500 PLC places to be allocated nationally for new pre-apprenticeship courses for those planning to learn a trade.

“I am determined to increase the range and quality of the pathways for people to fulfil their career ambitions during my time as minister,” Bruton said at the launch of the report this morning.

“If we want to be the best in Europe, by 2026, we need to ensure that we provide many different opportunities for people to achieve their ambitions.”

Written by Cianan Brennan and posted on

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