2. Level 6 & 7 Graduates

Level 6 & 7 Graduates: This section examines the outcomes of graduates of programmes at NFQ Levels 6 and 7 from institutes of technology. A common outcome for these graduates is further study, as they continue to progress in their studies and pursue programmes at higher NFQ levels.


  • Overview of Graduate Population

    • 8,934 graduates of Level 6 & 7 programmes (43.4% female; 56.6% male)
    • Median age of 23.5 years old at time of graduation
    • 67.6% pursued further study

Main Graduate Destination

The proportion of graduates in employment nine months after graduation dropped to 26.8% in 2020, down from 30.2% in 2018. The proportion of graduates pursuing further study remains high, with two-thirds of graduates opting for further study (67.6% in 2020; 66.4% in 2018). Unemployment has increased to 4.5% in 2020, up from 2.2% in 2018.

Employment Outcomes

This section relates only to graduates who are in employment nine months after graduation (26.8%). Most pursue employment in Ireland (94.3%).

  • Contract Type and Employment Type

    Most graduates are on permanent or open-ended contracts (79.9%). Nonetheless, 14.1% are on fixed-term contracts, and 6.0% are on temporary or unpaid contracts.

    Moreover, most graduates are employees (93.6%), with only a small proportion being self-employed (4.6%). A further 1.9% are on graduate internships or placements.

  • Occupation and Sector

    The most common occupations for Level 6 & 7 graduates are Professional Occupations (27.1%), Associate Professional & Technical Occupations (15.3%), and Administrative & Secretarial Occupations (11.1%).

    By sector, gender differences are observed. The most common sector of employment for females is Human Health & Social Work Activities (17.1%), while for males, Industry is the most common sector of employment (23.4%).

26.2% working in Dublin

Combined, Dublin (26.2%), Cork (11.4%) and Kildare (9.8%) account for almost half of all Level 6 & 7 graduate employment in Ireland.


24.5% earn less than €25,000 per annum

Of the graduates who disclosed their salary (70.8%), more than two-fifths (43.0%) of female Level 6 & 7 graduates earn less than €25,000 per annum. In contrast, only 12.9% of male Level 6 & 7 graduates earn less than €25,000 per annum. This is likely related to sectoral differences outlined above, and the proportion of graduates in part-time or full-time work.

Part-time employment is more common amongst females. Note that at the lower salary bands, there is a higher proportion of graduates in part-time employment.


  • Did Level 6 & 7 graduates do Internships?

    More than half did not complete internships as part of their course (57.4%). This is particularly low in Education, with only 14.3% of graduates having done internships.

    Internship participation is most common amongst Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries & Veterinary graduates (90.2%), and Services graduates (76.2%).



  • Are courses relevant to graduate jobs?

    59.5% of Level 6 & 7 graduates considered their course Very Relevant or Relevant to their job. More than one in five graduates considered their course Very Irrelevant or Irrelevant to their job (23.3%). This is particularly high amongst Arts & Humanities graduates, with 46.3% considering their course Very Irrelevant or Irrelevant to their job.

    On the need for qualification, 34.8% of graduates state that the qualification was a formal requirement. A further 19.5% state that while the qualification was not a formal requirement, it gave them an advantage. Nonetheless, 26.7% are already in the job when they received their qualification, and 17.8% state that their qualification was not required.

28.6% were already working in the job

Looking at the source of employment, 28.6% of graduates are already working in their job. A further 19.1% found employment through Personal Contacts, and 14.8% found employment through Recruitment Sites.


Further Study Outcomes

Pursuing further study is the most common outcome for Level 6 & 7 graduates. More than two-thirds (67.6%) of Level 6 & 7 graduates pursued further study, with 83.5% of these graduates pursuing Undergraduate Honours Degree programmes, and 13.4% pursuing Undergraduate Ordinary Degrees. As the focus of this chapter is on Level 6 & 7 graduates who opted for employment instead of further study, no further analysis is provided. For a detailed analysis of Undergraduate Honours Degree graduate outcomes, see 3. Undergraduate Honours Degree Graduates.


Engaged in Other Activities or Unemployed

Only 1.0% of all Level 6 & 7 graduates are Engaged in Other Activities, and 4.5% are Unemployed. The number of graduates in these cohorts are too low to conduct a meaningful analysis.

Graduate Reflections

This section consists of all Level 6 & 7 graduates surveyed.

72.5% likely to study the same course again

Nearly 3 in 4 Level 6 & 7 graduates (72.5%) say that they are Very Likely or Likely to study the same course again. Only 16.5% are Very Unlikely or Unlikely to study the same course again. This is highest amongst Arts & Humanities graduates (30.6%).


Next Chapter: Undergraduate Honours Degree Graduates

Note: filtering can result in a low number of graduates that fit specific criteria. Any criteria that result in less than five graduates being represented are excluded from the graphs in this report. Nonetheless, the Total provided will be inclusive of any excluded fields.

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