In today’s Galway City Tribune, Jim answers a question on Leaving Cert options in 2019 and suggests the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship Programme as a viable consideration.

QUESTION: My daughter is doing her Leaving Cert next year, she is already worried about CAO points but she’s also not certain that college is the route for her. Are there other options she could consider?

Jim’s Response;

I can fully appreciate your daughter’s concern, undertaking the Leaving Cert can be very challenging. I recently read comments by Mary Keane, President of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals where she called for a reform of the system and discussed the ‘huge rate of stress related illness’ amongst students because of the pressure from third level entry.

It seems the point’s race does not always deliver the best results for all students. While I don’t work in education, I have been running my own business for over 20 years, so I understand what it takes to build a successful career, and I feel there is too much emphasis on CAO points.

However, I know your daughter for now needs to concentrate on next June. In my opinion, it’s important that a student takes the time to consider factors such as areas of interest, readiness for college, and appetite for work experience. It is not every student that third level education will suit, while others will relish the opportunity.

There are other options outside of the traditional routes to college. For example, there are now many apprenticeship courses in varied areas such as finance, hospitality, accounting and insurance.

It’s what we at the Insurance Institute call the ‘Earn and Learn’ approach and its exactly what our Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship Programme is designed for. First launched in 2016, our apprenticeship programme is helping to reshape the landscape of apprenticeships in Ireland by enabling apprentices to work for an insurance employer, while also studying for a BA Hons in Insurance Practice.

The programme has been a game changer as it offers people of all ages a real alternative to college, while also providing local jobs, to local people throughout the country.

The Government funded apprenticeship is run in partnership with IT Sligo, and apprentices complete the degree portion online through distance learning over three years. The minimum entry requirements include two honours in higher level subjects in the Leaving Cert and a pass in four additional subjects including English/Irish and Maths.

For more information visit Insurance may not be the career choice for your daughter, however there are plenty of options out there. Speaking with a Career Guidance Counsellor would be a very positive first step and doing research and talking with people working in some areas she’s interested in would be beneficial.

The main thing is not to feel overwhelmed, and not to rush the decision. I’ve no doubt that your daughter will find her path, it will just be important that she makes an informed decision based on what’s right for her.