Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Post-secondary non-tertiary education


6.Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

6.7Post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Post Secondary Non Tertiary Education

In Ireland, Further Education is the term used to describe education and training which occurs after second level schooling, but which is not part of the third level system. There are number of providers of Further and Adult Education and Training and a wide variety of schools, organisations and institutions are involved in the delivery of continuing education and training for young school leavers and adults.

The provision of post school vocational education and training (VET) expanded rapidly in the 1980s with the availability of European Social Funds, mainly through the work of the vocational education committees. In 2010, responsibility for VET activity (which was then operated under FAS, the Industrial Training Authority) was transferred from the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to the Minister for Education and Skills. All education and vocational training is now delivered under a single Ministry.

In 2013, the system was further streamlined with the abolition of Vocational Education Committees (VECs) under the Education and Training Boards Act. Education and Training Boards (ETBs) were established in their place. 33 VECs have been replaced by 16 ETBs. Each ETB is responsible for co-ordinating vocational training in its area.

A new Further Education Authority, Solas, was established under the same Act. Solas has responsibility for policy, co-ordination and funding of further education and training provision, working in collaboration with the ETBs.

Further Education programmes aim to provide for a more intensive development of technical skills, including new technologies, combining opportunities for work experience, vocational studies and general studies. These programmes cater for people who have completed senior cycle education, and require further vocational education and training to enhance their prospects of employment or progression to other studies or for adults returning to education, who may not have completed the senior cycle, but are deemed by the provider to have the necessary competencies and capacity to undertake the programme. Admission is normally determined by application and interview.

Programme content is relevant to labour market needs and/or progression to further studies. In 2016/2017 there were 31,969 students enrolled in full-time further education programmes that were certified at levels 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications.