“I now work in a job that has ample benefits that allows me a better quality of life.”

The 3rd European Vocational Skills Week takes place from the 5th to 9th November 2018. As National Coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL), AONTAS is profiling VET Week Ambassadors – by sharing FET learner stories throughout the week. This year we are catching up with learners who took part in our 2016 “I’m an Adult Learner” campaign to find out where they are at now. In 2016 Barry Christy shared his learner story and spoke about his negative experience of education the first time around. With new interests and the support of an Adult Guidance Counsellor, Barry found something he is passionate about.

Barry’s Learner Story:

In 2016 Barry shared his negative experience in education the first time around. He quickly fell behind in primary school due to learning difficulties, which led to the whole experience being very stressful. His negative experience continued through secondary school. It wasn’t until after school when he started working and developed new interests that he began to let go of his past educational experience. Barry said:


“Learning about areas which I had a passion for was the key to overcoming my negative relationship with formal education.”

As time moved on and job security was no longer certain without qualifications, Barry decided it was time to return to education. He met with an Adult Guidance Counsellor in Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB). Here he was supported on his new journey. With the help of the Adult Guidance Counsellor Barry decided on a course that suited his needs and interests. He also received help with applications for grants and college.

“With help, I successfully applied for a course I was truly passionate about in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).”

 “I have learned so much from returning to education” - Barry successfully graduated from GMIT in 2015 with an honours degree and was immediately hired by a large car company.

 We caught up with Barry recently to see how he was getting on. His is currently in full-time employment and is still grateful for his journey back to education, saying:

 “I would not be in my job if I had not received further education. I love my job and will most likely continue in this line of work. I hope to do a masters in the coming years.”

Barry shared with us how Further Education and Training has improved his life: “I now work in a job that has ample benefits that allows me a better quality of life.”

We hope that sharing Barry’s uplifting story will encourage others to access guidance services and explore your own learning options.

For more information on your education and training options visit or contact AONTAS on our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669. 






If you have an inspiring learner story that you would like to share you can contact Leah Dowdall, Learner Advocacy Officer by email:, call 01 406 8220 or you can fill out our short learner story survey here: