National Open Day for specialist training provider which has supported over 2,500 people with disabilities into employment and further education since 2020.

To mark College Awareness Week, National Learning Network (NLN), the education and training division of the Rehab Group, is hosting a National Open Day across a number of its centres from 11 am on Thursday, November 23rd.  The event will serve as a cornerstone celebration for National College Awareness Week.

College Awareness Week aims to promote the benefits of a post-secondary education plan for everyone.  It is supported by the National Association of Principals, Deputy Principals, and other organisations such as the Union of Students in Ireland and the Irish Union of Second-Level Students.  NLN, with a presence in over 50 locations, is a progressive leader in delivering personalised education, training, and development opportunities for people with disabilities or requiring additional support throughout Irish communities.

NLN’s certified training courses have significantly impacted the progression of people with disabilities and health conditions into further education and employment.  More than 1,653 NLN students have gone on to further education since 2020, and an additional 950 have been supported to find jobs.   Some participants, who were previously locked out of the jobs market, have landed jobs in a range of companies such as Meta, Cook Medical and Mr. Price and across the hospitality and tourism industry.  People attending National Learning Network include those claiming any form of disability benefit, those recovering from an accident or injury, or those living with mental health challenges, autism or learning disabilities.

NLN each year also supports hundreds of people with complex and enduring mental health issues through a programme called Individual Placement and Support (IPS). IPS helps people who would have otherwise met with barriers to the employment market to find work in mainstream competitive jobs. The service is currently supporting 329 participants, 89 of whom are working and being supported to maintain their jobs.  NLN is particularly attuned to the needs of those who find traditional post-school study routes challenging, including individuals living with autism or those who may struggle in larger class settings.

Who Can Attend?

NLN Open Day is open to individuals of all ages, from early school leavers up to adults of all ages.  Our dedicated staff collaborates with employers to match students with the right roles, fostering a supportive personal and professional growth environment.

Seventeen-year-old Katie Nolan from Tralee found mainstream secondary school challenging, but her life changed when she discovered NLN.

“Before I found NLN, I was in a mainstream secondary school with an SNA.  When I was in Transition Year, I had to start looking at my future.  I found mainstream secondary school difficult and knew I wouldn’t have been able for the standard leaving certificate.  I decided to explore further, and I attended pathway fairs where I discovered NLN.  The very helpful staff told me and my parents all about the supports NLN offers, small class sizes, rehabilitation officers, psychologists, learning support teachers, and sensory room, to name a few.

I attended an introduction week in NLN Tralee, and I loved it.  I felt that I was included and listened to as the college is very inclusive and I knew this would be the perfect fit for me.  I realised that I could get the education I wanted to progress further and do it at my own pace with the support that I needed.  And this is exactly what I’ve done.  I’m now studying QQI level 3 Introductory Skills Training.  Since I started in the NLN I’ve changed so much.  If you told me 12 months ago that I would have had the confidence to travel up to Dublin and Cork to do private courses to become a qualified dog trainer working with search and rescue dogs and assistance dogs and have my own business, I would not have believed it was possible.  I’m also progressing my education privately and begin my Emergency Medical Technician course in September.  Once I’ve this done, I will then move further into paramedics.  All this has been made possible by coming to NLN,” said Katie.

Director of Learning at National Learning Network, Lucianne Bird, said: “We are delighted to be part of a nationwide campaign to promote the importance of post-secondary education, particularly for people with disabilities or those who need a little support to achieve their goals.  People with disabilities experience multiple barriers to accessing and sustaining employment, including access and infrastructural barriers, poverty traps, negative stereotypical perceptions, and limited progressive education opportunities. NLN advocates for students to have the choice to pursue the course best suited to their interests, abilities, and dreams.  We feel passionately about how NLN works for people for whom traditional post school routes simply do not work.   We are a pathway for people to access further and third level education, apprenticeships, and employment.  At NLN, we believe no one should be left behind, and this is what our inclusive, equitable education and training model is all about.”

“We work with people of all ages, from early school leavers to adults of all ages.  Our staff are skilled in working with employers to help match students with the right employer and the right role.  We would advise anyone who needs extra support to get into employment or further education to drop into a participating centre during our National Open Day event on November 23rd,” she said.

Members of the public interested in attending an NLN Open Day can log onto to find the location of their nearest participating centre.


For further information or to request an interview, please contact Ciara Heffernan at or 087 9728513