Economy Minister joins College leaders to promote post-16 Further Education offer

Economy Minister, Gordon Lyons MLA, has met with Further Education leaders and teaching staff to discuss the range of options available to school leavers at further education colleges as they receive their GCSE results today.

Attending Northern Regional College’s Newtownabbey campus, the Minister also congratulated students across Northern Ireland’s six further education colleges who received their exam results.

At Northern Ireland’s six Further Education Colleges there is a vast array of first-class courses available for post-GCSE students who wish to leave the school environment.

All six colleges offer a wide range of part-time and full-time A-Level-equivalent courses alongside ‘fast-track’ options which allows some students to complete their exams in one academic year.

Vocational courses provide learners with the professional and technical qualifications they need to go straight into well-paid jobs and promising careers with students also having the option to choose from an extensive list of traineeships and apprenticeships.

Economy Minister, Gordon Lyons MLA said:

“I would like to congratulate all those receiving their GCSE results. Today is an exciting time for many and one where you start to make decisions about the career path you would like to take. For some this may mean returning to school to continue their studies, for others it may be looking at FE options. Further Education Colleges offer a wide range of opportunities for learners including both academic and vocational courses.

“If you are looking for further advice on career pathways, students and parents alike, I would urge you to speak to one of my Department’s careers advisers. Their advice is free and impartial and can cover all the options available. To find out more on how to contact them visit”

Chief Executive and Principal of Northern Regional College, Mel Higgins said:

“It was great to welcome the Minister to Northern Regional College today to meet with staff to discuss the many courses on offer within Northern Ireland’s Further Education sector as thousands of young people open their GCSE results this morning.

“We know that school is not for everyone, that is why we are encouraging all students receiving results today to consider their options at their local Further Education college. The array of A-Level-equivalent options on offer this year to school leavers who chose to study at their local Further Education college is first-class and will open the door to further study or life-long careers.

“Vocational courses are also in high demand. We want to encourage school leavers to consider undertaking a vocational qualification. These are created with industry in mind, meaning that our learners leave college with the professional and technical qualifications they need to go straight into well-paid jobs and promising careers.”

To find out more information about the higher education options at local FE Colleges visit