Thousands of young people leaving school will search for jobs in a country with high levels of unemployment.

Around 50,000 people will leave school this summer. Leaving school can mean the start of further education or training for some but for most it will mean the search for a job.

Thousands of students will close the school gates behind them for the last time. They begin the journey into life and within the space of a few years will make decisions that will probably determine both their life and their lifestyles for the rest of their lives.

The economic prospects are bleak with Ireland experiencing the highest levels of unemployment since the early 1950s. In a country that already has around 110,000 people unemployed, a further 35,000 school leavers will join them in the search for work.

What are the prospects for these school leavers and why is a leaving certificate no longer sufficient for many jobs.

Richard Keane Guidance Counsellor at Whitehall CBS describes the prospects for school leavers as "rather grim" in a very competitive job market. He outlines some of the options available in terms of training and further education. 

School leavers describe their failed attempts to find employment and parents outline the challenges they face.  

Pat O'Shea, Eastern Regional Manager with AnCo, outlines some of the initiatives to assist job seekers and provide training in the skills required to gain employment in these challenging times. The selection procedure for training courses has also become more competitive with many based on an aptitude test and an interview. However, gaining a place on a training course is no guarantee of finding a job upon completion.

At Plunkett Vocational School in Whitehall, the focus is not solely on the Leaving Certificate. Principal Morgan J Sheehy explains that the Leaving Certificate is not for everyone and the focus should be on a student’s aptitudes and abilities. He outlines initiatives introduced to help those who leave school with a Group or Intermediate Certificate. The school has set up a course called 'Introduction to Work’

This episode of ‘First House’ was broadcast on 27 January 1976. The presenters are Tom McGurk and Áine O'Connor.  The programme was produced by Barry Kelly and John McColgan.