Apprenticeships in Ireland
Apprenticeship is a programme of structured education and training which formally combines and alternates learning in the work place with learning in an education or training centre. It is a dual system, a blended combination of on-the-job employer-based training and off-the-job training which:
- prepares the participant for a specific occupation, and
- leads to a qualification nationally recognised on the National Framework of Qualifications from Level 5-Level 10.
Apprentices are employed by an approved employer for the duration of the programme which is generally between 2-4 years. Apprenticeship programmes provide at least 50% workplace based learning.
A 2014 Review of Apprenticeship Training in Ireland recommended expansion of the national apprenticeship system into new and existing industry sectors. This builds on a strong tradition; since the 1970s it is estimated that over 105,000 apprentices have been trained in Ireland. Over the past 18 months work has been underway to introduce new apprenticeships to add to twenty-seven existing ‘craft’ apprenticeships. In 2016, there were over 3,700 new registrations on craft apprenticeships in sectors that include engineering, electrical and construction. Craft apprenticeships are generally four years in duration, lead to an award at Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications, and comprise seven alternating phases of on-the-job and off-the-job training.
Apprenticeships introduced from 2016 on lead to an award between Levels 5-10 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Each apprenticeship programme can be between 2-4 years in duration. Diverse models of training on-and-off the job are used, as well as different models of delivery and target groups (including those already in employment). Apprenticeship development and roll-out is overseen by industry-led groups (consortia) working with education and training providers and other partners.
Three of these new apprenticeships have been developed to date:
Industrial Electrical Engineering
Polymer Processing Technology
A further 15+ new apprenticeship programmes are in development and will be introduced over the next 12-18 months.