Conversion courses: facts, figures and funding

One of the busiest talks at the postgradireland Further Study Fair this week was on conversion courses. It was interesting, but not entirely surprising, to hear that conversion courses are more in demand than ever with graduates keen to maximise their employability and gain competitive advantage in the job market.

According to Caroline Kennedy, Careers Adviser at NCI who gave a seminar on the subject, business, arts and humanities subjects (such as HR and marketing) and computer courses are extremely popular areas for conversion. And with accountancy dominating a whopping 40 per cent of today’s graduate jobs (and banking pulling in 17 per cent), these are also key conversion-course hotspots.

The most popular conversion courses are in education, says Caroline: you can convert from most degree disciplines to primary, post-primary teaching or guidance counselling. Applications from graduates in most degree subjects are also welcomed onto law conversion courses. However this isn’t the case for all areas – to convert to engineering you need to have a first degree in a science or science-related degree.

There are, of course, huge opportunities in IT, and you don’t have to have a techie background to land a place on an IT conversion course. 55 per cent of high-level IT jobs are filled by inward migration – meaning, in other words, that staff are recruited from overseas to fill these positions in Ireland – and there have been hundreds of job announcements so far this year. The government is crying out for graduates to convert to IT and to this end are funding several programmes in the hope of attracting more students. The Graduate Skills Conversion Programme has capped the fees for ICT conversion courses at €2,750, and has waived them entirely for over 750 of them. For a list of programmes funded under the Graduate Skills Conversion Programme visit www.hea.ie/en and www.bluebrick.ie/ictskills.

The government’s drastic funding cuts mean that it’s absolutely vital that you know how you will fund your conversion course. On average, they cost between €2,500 and €10,000, so ask yourself: will the course improve my employability? Will it give me value for money? If the answer’s yes, then with luck this investment will reap you rewards in the long run. We are keeping a close eye on the postgraduate funding situation in Ireland and all latest information can be found at postgradireland.com/funding.

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