Athlone VTOS students recently received education accolades in the surrounds of The Shamrock Lodge Hotel with the presentation of QQI certificates during a graduation ceremony.
The certification was provided by QQI at levels four and five and the ICS Skills Foundation provided certification with the ECDL. This certification is very valuable in both providing a path to third level education and also in re-entering the work place. Employers are quick to recognise the potential of students who have been successful in achieving certification from QQI - which incorporates the necessary practical skills which employers require in the workplace today.
Several of the past students who attended the night had indeed gained employment since leaving VTOS or had gone on to continue their studies at a higher level at the AIT and Maynooth.
Ms. Maria Ryan (VTOS Co-ordinator ) welcomed everyone and congratulated the students on their outstanding achievements. Opportunities for employment have changed recently with the upturn in the economy and VTOS students had armed themselves with new skills and qualifications that are exactly what are needed to gain employment and ultimately help rebuild Ireland. She thanked the staff and tutors at Athlone VTOS and her colleagues at Garrycastle Training Centre and Longford Westmeath ETB for all their help, professionalism and support throughout the year.
This year there were 48 certificates - 21 Full QQI Level 5 certificates and 21 component certificates. There were also six full ECDL certificates. A huge effort and commitment from students and their families ultimately leads to such awards. QQI (formerly known as FETAC ) is an excellent form of certification which is nationally recognised.
Ms. Antonine Healy (Director of Further Education and Training ) congratulated the students and encouraged them to support others who may be considering returning to education. She remarked that each successful student there tonight is the best kind of Ambassador for the great service provided by the Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board. She remarked that there were so many different courses available not just at Garrycastle Training Centre but throughout the LWETB that ranges from part time options - to full time programmes like VTOS - to courses for those in work such as the ‘skills for work’ initiative.
Another very welcome guest on the night was Ms. Nicola Galvin (Adult Education Officer ) who spoke about the amount of time and effort it takes to achieve certification and commended the students on their outstanding achievements. She said it was very evident that the students had really enjoyed their time on the VTOS course and that they had forged new friendships, gained in confidence and realised their potential.
Evidence of this was shown by the students who volunteered to speak on the night about their experiences at VTOS.
Ms. Kristina Hilberta spoke on behalf of the Art and Craft Students and said how she hadn’t intended to stay on the course and was nervous before starting – but once she started, she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. She felt that was always a person who was good at craft but that she learned so much about art and so many new techniques on the course and she paid tribute to the lovely staff and her fellow students who all still keep in touch - even after finishing the course.
The Athlone VTOS motto is “it’s never too late to learn” and indeed all the successful students are shining examples of this!
The Athlone VTOS programme is run by the Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board (LWETB ) and is funded by the Department of Education and the European Social Fund. The full time course runs for two years with a wide range of subjects at QQI level 5 in Business Administration, Software Development and Art/Craft. Athlone VTOS is now situated at Garrycastle at the Athlone Training centre with state of the art facilities, free parking for students and an excellent canteen.