15 Aug 2018

Leaving Certificate One of Many Options for Adult Learners

Adult learners are amongst almost 56,000 students celebrating their Leaving Cert results today (15.08.18), according to AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation.

Congratulating them, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “It is important to acknowledge that many adult learners are amongst the cohort of students who completed Leaving Cert exams this summer and, today, are celebrating their wonderful achievements.

“In Ireland, 445,000 people aged 25 to 64 have never completed upper secondary-level education – the Leaving Cert can act as a vital stepping stone for early school leavers to achieve their educational goals but it is just one of many options available to adults.”

Highlighting the many pathways to adult learning Ms O’Reilly said: “Most Irish people associate the Leaving Certificate with the only recognised formal school leaving examination, the reality is that adult learning offers a wide range of options for adults to achieve the equivalent of the Leaving Certificate standard – QQI Level 4/5.

It’s not a case of one size fits all and there are a wide range of courses available from basic education, skills training, access and higher education and personal development programmes depending on the individual needs of the learner.”

Each and every learner has a unique experience, and success means many things; from receiving a minor QQI award; to being able to help their children with homework; to upskilling for new employment opportunities.”

“We would like to congratulate all adult learners who received their Leaving Cert results today, and we wish them every success.”

Mature Student, Alan Hand

Alan Hand made the life-changing decision to return to education and complete his Leaving Certificate in 2016 after becoming unemployed due to the recession. Since then he has become a strong advocate for the benefits of adult learning, sharing his experience at local, national and European level.

Commenting about his experience, Mr Hand said: “At the age of thirty seven I found myself unemployed due to the downturn in the economy. To prepare myself for future employment opportunities I knew I needed to upskill and get a qualification.

“Returning to education has been empowering and it has given me the confidence to secure employment, most importantly good quality employment. I now have job security which is a great feeling. I look forward to embracing new opportunities and experiences in the future.” 

Mr Hand had this advice for others looking to return to education: “Do it sooner rather than later - it’s the best decision you’ll ever make. It’s important to find an option that suits you and that fits in with your other commitments - including family. It’s also important to avail of any supports that might be on offer, including guidance or childcare. It can make all the difference in helping you complete a course.”

For adults looking for further education and training options, the One Step Up website ( details learning opportunities that are available in Ireland. Adults can also call the Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669 for more information, or to receive a copy of the new One Step Up Information Booklet.


For further information, contact: Katie O’Rourke, Communications Lead, AONTAS, Tel: 087-9086168 / 01-4068220.