Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Michael Bohane from BioPharmachem Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:


Michael Bohane

QA Manager

BioPharmachem Ireland

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  Michael Bohane
Be prepared for responsibility and the rewards and problems that come with responsibility. It is very important to be comfortable making decisions and living with them. While it is impossible to be right all of the time the majority of decisions you make have to be correct.

Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be drawn towards the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
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CAO 2016 Application Stats released

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CAO 2016 Application Stats released

Wednesday, March 09, 2016 

CAO 2016 Application Stats released

The Central Applications Office (CAO) has today released 2016 application data up to the Change of Course Choices closing date of 1st March.

A record total of 76,081 applications were received by CAO by the 1 February closing date, an increase of 1,657 applicants on the previous year - 307 of these applicants were Advanced Entry applicants only. The final figure is likely to be slightly higher with late applications accepted until 1st May.

The number of applicants applying for places on most courses has increased this year, and is set to continue to increase each year for the next ten years, due to a population increase of approximately 2,000 children every year since the beginning of this century. This increase now being reflected in the numbers sitting the Leaving Cert.

It is important to note that the data provided at this stage is interim data and is subject to change when late applications are taken into account and when the ‘Change of Mind’ facility closes on 1 July at 5:15pm.

Overall 2016 CAO data shows:

  • An increase in Level 8 applications (Up 1,900 from 63,130 in 2015 to 65,030 in 2016)
  • A decrease in Level 6/7 applications (Down 640 from 35,525 in 2015 to 34,885 in 2016), perhaps indicating a tendency by CAO applicants to delay filling in their Level 6/7 options until later in the process.

Subject Areas

Examined by subject group, the initial data shows

  • One of the biggest increases in demand is for Level 8 Nursing courses - up 10.75% (3,811) from 35,441 in 2015, to 39,252 this year, perhaps indicating that the message about nursing shortages is really hitting home.
  • At the same time, applications for Medicine are down by 78 (0.61%) while Pharmacy (1,942) and Dentistry (1,085) are up by (4.63% and 2.65% respectively). Level 8 Applications to Physiotherapy are also up  - 4.79% from 3,299 in 2015, to 3,457 in 2016. 
  • The biggest percentage increase, although smaller in numbers, is a 16.2% increase in demand for Level 8 courses in the Built Environment - up from 1,907 to 2,216 in 2016. Architecture is also up by 14.06% - from 624 in 2015 to 708 in 2016, reflecting renewed confidence in the career potential of the property sector. Level 6/7 applications for Built Environment courses shows a small decrease at this stage of 3.88% (70 applicants).
  • Engineering and Technology which are grouped together, are showing a 6.89% increase (up 2,424 from 35,201 in 2015 to 37,625 in 2016) with first preferences up by 823 on last year - good news for employers in these areas where significant skills shortages are predicted for the years ahead.
  • There is no change in application numbers for Science, remaining pretty static (53,353 last year and 53,355 this year) reflecting an ongoing success in attracting students into this area.
  • No surprise that Education courses continue to be popular, the increase of 406 applications reflecting a 2.16% increase in demand and 19,242 applicationsin the system.
  • Administration and Business at 60,604 applications of which 10,843 are first preferences, is up by 2,466 on last year, a jump of 4.24% and a continued rise year on year, reflecting a buoyancy in the overall market.
  • Law applications are also up again this year (4.10%) with 13,622 applications.

Downward Trends

  • The biggest single decrease in demand this year is for Agriculture and Horticulture courses - down a whopping 24.93% (661) from 2,651 applications in 2015, to 1,990 in 2016
  • Arts and Social Science, although the largest category in terms of demand for places with 83,645 applications, and 14,406 first preferences, are down by 3.14% on last year numbers
  • Art and Design courses are down 148 (1.69%), which is a surprising result as it includeds Media and Television, Animation and Digital Design courses

Level 6 and 7 applications

Level 6 and 7 application numbers are down across the board with the exception of Architecture and Law. Overall, there are 6,702 (5.16%) less applicants registering an interest at this early stage for Level 6/7 courses. This is very disappointing considering the fantastic FE/QQI Progression routes now available. This may shift by the July CAO Deadline as students continue to modify their CAO applications and become more aware of their options.

The biggest losers here are Agriculture and Horticulture (-29.32%) followed by Healthcare (-20.99%) and Education (-17.77%).

So what does it all mean?

Demand is generally a good indicator of whether or not points will increase or fall. Where there is significant growth in applications for particular courses there is greater competition for each available course place, which will in turn translate into higher CAO points.

Where applications for a course drop or remain similar, CAO points will generally remain steady or may even fall. 

No Preferences listed

Of those who registered with the CAO before the February 1 deadline over 6,000 did not actually list their preferences.  CAO applicants have until July 1 to submit their course choices, however, the growing number of undecided students raises questions as to why students are not ready to fill out the form before the main deadline.

Explore the CareersPortal Interactive CAO Application Trends HERE

Mature Applicant Numbers are down

There was a total of 10,280 applications from applicants over 23 years of age – down 483 on 2015. 

Northern Ireland Applicants

Significant increase in number of NI students applying to CAO can be seen as a success of the new grading system.

The number of NI applicants have increased significantly this year by nearly 25% from 1,383 in 2015 to 1,718 in 2016. These early indications will be seen as a vindication of the changes and a positive move in terms of north south educational cooperation.

A new admissions procedure has been introduced for 2016 entrants that will make it easier for school-leavers from Northern Ireland to gain entry into the system here. Under the plan, the Central Applications Office (CAO) points awarded for an A* grade in the A-Level exams will rise from 150 to 180. The points for an A will go up from 135 to 150, while other A-Level grades will be adjusted by five-10 points.

Most students in NI tend to take just three A-Levels at secondary school. Under the old marking system, three A* grades would yield 450 points – well below the 500-points marker required for many prestigious courses in the south.

Under the new system, three A* grades will yield 540 points, and up to 60 further points could be added to this if the student takes a fourth A-Level.

Applicants presenting Grade E or above in one of A-Level Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Pure Mathematics will have 25 points added to their score for that subject. The bonus points will only be relevant where that subject is scored as one of the applicant's best four subjects for points purposes. This gives a maximum possible score of 625.

For the first three A-Levels, the points equivalent for an A* grade rises from 150 to 180; A from 135 to 150; B from 120 to 130; C stays at 100; D drops from 75 to 65 and E rises from 40 to 45. If a fourth A-Level is taken it will be marked on a lower scale of 15-60 points, while an AS (or partial A-Level) will be marked on a scale of 10-30 points.

Speaking about the application figures, General Manager of CAO, Joseph O’Grady, commented: “The majority of CAO applicants will be permitted to use the ‘Change of Mind’ facility when it opens on 5 May to add, remove or re-order course choices, which will result in changes to the figures released today”.

Late applications are currently being accepted up to May 1st at 5:15pm -to apply to CAO go to and click on ‘Apply’. All CAO applicants will receive a ‘Statement of Application Record’ before the end of May, and CAO advises applicants to read this document carefully. The Statement of Application Record will contain details of important information held on file for the applicant - including course choices and examination details - and any errors or omissions identified in this document must be communicated to CAO immediately.

Applicants are advised to contact CAO using the ‘Contact’ page on the CAO website. 

The CareersPortal Team