Currently there are 300,000 people in the country of Ireland enrolled into a further education scheme, and this number is rapidly increasing. The education and that especially that of further education online is increasing drastically, with the Irish Government investing €826 million into further education, in 2014.

However there are still many of Ireland’s population out of work and education with 1.48 million receiving weekly social welfare payments of either; Casual Jobseeker and Jobseekers Payments, in 2014. This has spurred people like Deirdre O’Reilly to help get Ireland’s labour force back into education.

Deirdre O’Reilly (M.B.A) has recently launched the first live online further education college in Ireland, with TD Ciaran Cannon, on 31st of August 2015.

With a masters and thirty years of business under her belt Deirdre feels Ireland is ready for the new innovation in technology to help all businesses and people with further education in a new and exciting way. She is here to give advice to those wanting to get back into education, but don’t know where to start.

Where you are on the education ladder – Whether you are a secondary school leaver or have achieved a doctorate, we all stand on the education ladder. Further education colleges such as Athena College of Ireland can help you take steps up the education ladder and open doors to further your career. The live online programmes include; Food Safety, Health & Safety, Social Media for Business and Digital Marketing, Technology in learning delivery, and Teaching assessment Quality Assurance.

Preparation – Preparation over the months leading up to your return to the education system can boost your career development. The best thing I found returning to do a Masters in Business three years ago, and even through my thirty years in business is to prepare a positive mind. Staying positive can do wonders for ones work ethic, helping you to keep working through the stressful times such as exam season.

Making lists, prioritising tasks, and assignments, as a mundane task as it is it will keep you on track and ensure you don’t miss any deadlines. It is even a great way to keep your mind focused on the tasks at hand, and deters you from becoming overwhelmed.

Confidence – Confidence is key and comes with experience! Going back to education three years ago I know that I was much better equipped to handle college, and my work life balance a lot better than when “I knew it all in my twenties”. Always remind yourself of the bigger picture, because starting a new project, whether it is education or even in life can be scary. Knowing and reminding yourself that you are there for a reason and your long term goals can help you through the unnerving first couple of days, and remember it’s new for everyone else there too.

Learning about yourself – Take the time you need to learn what it is you always wanted to do. There is no point feeling pressured into an online course, college, or further education platform to keep people off your back. Take the time, and ask yourself; “what is that one thing I have always dreamt of?” because trust me it’s never too late no matter how long it takes you to get there.

Funding and Support – There is a wide range of granting and government funding options out there for the Irish public to sustain further education, as it is a huge investment for anyone no matter what the accreditation or platform used. Check in with your local citizen information office, they will have a list of forms and information for you to help you understand what you are entitled to, and get you back on the education ladder. You can also go online to www.studentfinance.ie; where they can provide you with a whole host of back to education and granting options.

Getting back on the horse – Most people who are returning to education have more than likely been in the education system or third level college before, and it may not have worked out fully. Just because a particular course or area in your career did not work out, all this experience will lead you to the right path. So using all your past experiences can tailor you for a brighter future.

Expeditions and Open Days – Although a lot of colleges, Further Education Colleges have their courses and information online and use their website as a shop window, there is nothing better at boosting your confidence and getting your foot in the door than an open day. Speaking to past students, and lecturers can give you a proper insight on what a course can do for your future, or even steer you away from potentially choosing the wrong course. Even just meeting past and present students, and tutors can help by having a few friendly faces on the first day.

Put yourself out there – Attending events and mixers is a daunting task even for the best of us. But they are not nearly as scary as they seem. Once you have gone to one or two you will find your happy medium, and going to events will become second nature to you.

Networking can have huge benefits to your career following on from the education process. You will have built rapport with future employers, and this could give you many points of reference. This should make you stand out from the crowd and you will no longer be a faceless CV when you have achieved your certificate, diploma or degree. Creating bridges now will be the key to an easier transition to the work force late on.

Building from your foundation – When you understand what you already have in terms of skills and qualities, this can direct you towards how to get the most out of your course options. Making a list of skills you have gained from previous courses, diplomas, online courses you have already attended, and past jobs can steer you in the right direction for your future, as it can show you what modules you excelled at, and what did not work for your skill set.

E Learning and Technology – Education online is fast becoming a primary education function in Ireland. It is estimated that 65% of our students in Ireland work in jobs that don’t exist; this means that the development of the Internet has been astronomical to accommodate these “21st century students”. Thinking about this fact astonishes me, as I never thought 20 years ago that I would be in the technology sector, let alone owning the first live online further education college in Ireland.

With this in mind I think that it hugely important to any student, whether you are recently starting in the further education process or your knowledge in a chosen profession, whether it be; IT, social media or office data, to be consistent in updating your web and technical knowledge. It will be hugely beneficial for your educational journey as every business depends on today’s rapidly changing technology. Live, online learning, such as Athena College can give you everything that the normal further education college provides, all in the comfort of your own home/ office.

All classes are recorded to allow students to reflect, and to ensure full transparency and quality assurance.

For more information on Athena College of Ireland please contact (+353) 1 691 1358, or go the website www.AthenaCollege.ie.