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One of the most common questions that we’re asked by prospective students about our suite of is ‘what level is this course on the framework?’ 

There are a lot of buzzwords in education, so it is important for people, when making the decision to upskill or return to education to understand exactly what they’re signing up for. 

Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI) define the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) as a 10-level system used to describe qualifications in the Irish education and training system.  The NFQ shows how General Education Awards, Further Education and Training and Higher Education Awards are mapped against the 10 levels of the framework.  

City College Diplomas are suitable for career minded learners wishing to advance their professional skills and prospects. They are widely accepted by employers and many students are sponsored to study here by their organisation. A City College’s Professional Diploma Course is a focused, practical programme designed and delivered by an industry practitioner, that consolidates, upskills, or reskills learners in a professional area. They are stand-alone qualifications that indicate that you have been trained in a particular area or specific subject matter. 

As you can see from the above diagram programmes on the NFQ range from 2nd level education right through to Doctorate level qualifications. So, with such a broad range of courses available on the NFQ why would someone take a course that isn’t aligned to the framework? 

While the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) provides a structured and recognised system of learning, there exists a parallel avenue of non-frameworked or Diploma courses that offers unique opportunities for personal and professional growth. In this blog post, we will explore why people in opt for Diploma courses and how these bite-sized programmes can significantly benefit their careers. 

Why Choose Professional Diploma/Diploma Courses

The NFQ aims to standardise education across the nation, but it may not always cater to highly specialised or emerging fields. Diploma courses, on the other hand, often fill this gap by providing training in niche areas that may not have been formally integrated into the national qualification framework. Students seeking expertise in specific industries or technologies can find these courses invaluable. Take ourselves at City Colleges for example, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and ChatGPT are all rapidly evolving, and people want to know what they are, how they can use them and for what purposes. Our ability to understand the area, create relevant programmes quickly and then deliver them to prospective students as bite sized consumable programmes that will enhance their knowledge of the area and either make it easily transferrable to their existing role or organisation or give them the confidence to undertake a course at undergraduate or postgraduate level in the future. 

While NFQ courses have a structured format and predefined learning outcomes, Diploma courses can offer greater flexibility and customisation. This adaptability allows learners to tailor their education according to their individual needs and interests, making it a perfect fit for those looking to upskill in a targeted manner. 

Diploma courses are developed and delivered by industry experts and professionals who are at the forefront of their respective fields. This direct connection to the job market ensures that learners gain practical, real-world skills that are highly relevant and valuable to employers. Such courses often focus on the latest trends and developments, equipping students with a competitive edge in the job market. 

Benefits for Career Advancement

Taking Professional Diploma courses can make a candidate stand out from the crowd, as it demonstrates their willingness to go beyond conventional learning and acquire specialised, contemporary skills. Employers often appreciate candidates who take the initiative to enhance their knowledge, particularly in areas that align with the organization’s needs. 

For those looking to change careers or transition into a new industry, Diploma or Professional accredited courses can be instrumental in facilitating a smooth pivot. These courses provide learners with the necessary expertise and credibility to make a successful transition, even if their previous qualifications were not directly related to the desired field. 

These courses also allow for networking within a sector as they often attract like-minded individuals, creating valuable networking opportunities. Building connections within specific industries can lead to job referrals, collaborations, and a deeper understanding of the job market’s demands, ultimately enhancing career prospects. 

While the National Framework of Qualifications serves as the backbone of Ireland’s education system, Diploma courses provide an exciting, time saving avenue for individuals seeking specialised knowledge and career advancement. By opting for these bite sized programmes, students can gain access to industry-relevant skills, enhance their employability, and explore new horizons in their professional lives. As Ireland continues to foster an environment of innovation and growth, embracing Diploma courses is a strategic choice that can lead to promising career opportunities and personal fulfilment. 

So, if you’re looking for your next set of personal or professional development the team here at City Colleges would be happy to advise you on what programme works best for your goals. We have programmes across areas such as business, Law, finance, computing and IT, Psychology and Media.