Two thirds say Government should do more to encourage further education: survey

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Two thirds of people feel the Government should do more to encourage the Irish public to engage in courses and further education, feeling that grants, subsidies or tax credits should be given. That’s one of the key findings of Careers Unlimited’s January 2017 ‘Courses & Training’ survey. The survey was completed by over 1200 users of our leading course finder website,, between 15th & 23rd January and gives a snapshot of the opinions of Irish course seekers about courses, training, courses providers in Ireland and the attitudes of their employers and Government towards further education.

Other key findings were:

  • 35% have been put off enrolling on a course in recent years by recession
  • 28% enrol in a course once per year, with 10% enrolling in more than one course per year.
  • Nearly half – 46 percent – have already done an online course, while 63% would consider it in future.

Meanwhile, less than half (40%) felt their employers were sufficiently supportive of further education and training.

32% of respondents were 35-44, 26% were 25-34 and 20% 45-54. Women made up 67% of respondents in our survey. Two thirds were in the Dublin commuter belt. 50% of those who completed the survey enrolled on a course during 2016, with 67% of those planning to enrol on a course in 2017.

Our survey asked a range of questions to assess the propensity of users to enrol in courses in 2017, what were the key influencers in engaging with course providers and what their experiences of training and courses has been in recent years.

Only 12.5% found course information by visiting a college website, with 3% using a newspaper and 65% using online searches such as and Google.

Reasons for enrolling in a course

  • To enhance my knowledge: 40 %
  • Career enhancement: 376%
  • Social reasons: 7%
  • For the craic: 2%

What’s important when choosing a course?

We wanted to know what factors people took into consideration when choosing a course.

  • Course content: 75%
  • Price: 65%
  • Certification of course: 63%
  • Distance from home and/or work: 63%
  • Reputation of course provider: 59%
  • Payment options: 30%
  • Information you read online: 24%
  • Parking: 24%
  • Information you obtained during an open day/evening: 12%
  • Course campus facilities: 7%

Experience of course providers

Course seekers in Ireland have a generally positive experience of course providers. A massive 80 percent of respondents said their experience of Irish course providers has been good, very good or excellent.

Support from employers

Nearly 40% feel their employers are supportive of courses and further training, suggesting increased interest on the part of the business community in improving training in the workplace. 2% said they were actively discouraged from taking a part-time or evening course by their employer.

Support from the government

Two thirds feel the government could do more to encourage people to upskill or retrain. Another two thirds felt that more grants, subsidies or tax credits are necessary.

Many respondents noted there is not much support for those who are employed but wish to study further. Here is a selection of their responses:

  • Provide a grant for people already in employment but wishing to further their education in a different field.
  • There are training supports if unemployed but not if you’re employed and want to further yourself.
  • There should be tax relief on fees if related to your job and not refunded by employer.
  • Provide tax relief incentives and paid leave.
  • More options for people who are employed, working long hours but for little pay.

Other issues that were raised as being not sufficiently supported by Government include supports for childcare, access for disabled people, relaxing rigid application rules and better internet coverage in rural areas.

Interest in education and enrolment figures

28% enrol in a course once per year. Interestingly, 10% take on more than one course every year. Overall, two thirds of people are keen on further education and courses.

Reasons for not enrolling

We also wanted to know why people decided not to take a course. Here are the most important reasons:

  • The course was too expensive: 33%
  • Did not have the time: 20%
  • Could not find the right course: 19%
  • Course provider was too far away and/or transport issues: 12%
  • Course content was unsuitable: 5%
  • Did not apply in time: 3%

Researching course options

Most people – 58 percent – spend two or more weeks researching course options before making a decision. A snappy 14% of those surveyed chose a course in less than a week.

Careers Unlimited’s Kevin Branigan said, “The Courses & Training Survey 2017 is an interesting cross-section of opinions from a large sample of active course seekers, featuring, in particular, many people who intend to enrol in a course in 2017 and are actively seeking for options.”

“It’s notable that people’s general view of course providers is positive and interesting that factors such as price, certification, distance from home/work and reputation of course provider are so high up the decision tree. It’s also interesting that the level of support from employers is strong. On the other scale, it’s clear people do not feel the Government is stepping up to the mark in providing incentives and support to those wishing to upskill.”

Those interested in obtaining a copy of the survey should contact:

Kevin Branigan
Managing Director
Careers Unlimited
2nd Floor, Castleforbes House
Castleforbes Road
Dublin 1
t: (01) 5311 280

Anne Sexton

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