Portlaoise Further Education and Training Centre are holding an open day this Friday, June 24, from 10am–2pm and 4pm-6pm.
There are many free courses both full-time and part-time with some students also receiving a training allowance.
Located on the Ridge Road, opposite the Leisure Centre, the centre is small and welcoming.
Lisa McEvoy, centre manager, is full of enthusiasm and committed to adult education.
She understands the challenges some adults face with committing to full-time courses and has worked hard to offer a timetable with both part-time and full-time options and the flexibility to do some modules remotely.
You can also claim up to €300 to purchase a laptop, tablet, PC, printer or any other IT equipment to support your learning.
Lisa talks about the changes she has seen over the last few years.
“Since the pandemic we have seen an increase in the number of people wishing to change careers or find a local job to fit around their family life.
“The Office Skills course and Business Administration are very popular options and with work experience part of the majority of courses, we have seen students secure work after their placement.
“Our student support service and small classes suit learners returning to education and it is great to see someone walking taller after a few weeks of a confidence boost.
“They build their confidence and get a good foundation and with the cost of living increasing we have options for those who want to earn and learn locally before they go to college or move on to employment.
“We have an excellent team in the centre and our teachers go the additional mile to support learners.
“We pride ourselves in maintaining a real student centred approach and ensure all learners are supported and encouraged throughout their studies, it’s a place where everyone knows your name!”
One of these year’s learners, Stuart Doig, says how the part-time option suited him, juggling family life and a part-time job. He also gained valuable work experience in The Local Enterprise Office.
Stuart is looking at options to move to a level 6 in September. Another student, Ruth O’Sullivan, who had left school after her Junior Certificate, started on a level 4 Office Skills.
Ruth credits the centre with helping her build her confidence and supporting her to gain her QQI level 4 Office Skills and level 5 Business Administration.
Ruth gained valuable work experience in Laois County Council on her work experience and is now working in DNG Estate Agents in Portlaoise.
Khurshid Sizen, who did Office Administration with Legal and Medical Studies, was delighted to gain a qualification that she feels will be recognised more by Irish employers and is looking forward to gaining employment as a legal or medical secretary.
The courses have limited availability so it is important to book early.
One thing Lisa is eager to stress is you do not need to be in receipt of any social welfare payment to avail of these free courses.
Go along next Friday and if children are off you can bring them with you, they have a storyteller onsite and lots of colouring activities from 10am-11am to keep children entertained while you discuss your options!