Apprenticeship is a programme of education and training which combines learning in the work place with learning in a training centre or educational college. Apprenticeship provides the opportunity for learning acquired off-the-job to be applied and further developed under supervision in the workplace.
Apprentices are employed by a SOLAS-approved employer for the duration of the programme which is generally between 2-4 years. Apprenticeship programmes provide at least 50% workplace-based learning.
As part of the national apprenticeship system, there are formal requirements for approval of an employer's suitability to train apprentices and for registration of apprentices. SOLAS is responsible for delivering on these requirements and draws on a network of 'Authorised Officers' (AOs) located in the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) around the country to do this.
For an employer to get approved to train apprentices in a particular occupation, s/he must demonstrate that they have the capacity and the ability to provide quality, relevant on-the-job training to apprentices as per the requirements of the national apprenticeship programme and the statutory apprenticeship system overall.
The Authorised Officer carries out a site visit to the employer's premises and the employer is formally assessed. The AO makes a recommendation to SOLAS on the employer's suitability to deliver the programme.
If the employer is not initially approved, the AO will work with the employer to identify what requirements remain to be met and the employer can be re-assessed.
Once an employer has been approved to train apprentices, s/he can recruit suitable candidates and register these as apprentices. To do this, the employer should contact the Authorised Officer in the local Education and Training Board.
To encourage specific sectors to employ female apprentices, a special female apprentice bursary may be paid to qualifying companies wishing to train apprentices in specific occupations. To find out if this applies, contact the apprenticeship section in your local Education and Training Board. For contact details of your local ETB select your county below.
For apprenticeships developed before 2016, the employer pays the apprentice while s/he is being trained on-the-job. A training allowance is paid by the local ETB while the apprentice is attending the off-the-job training.
For apprenticeships developed in 2016 and after, the employer pays the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship.
In all cases, the rate of pay is agreed between the employer and the apprentice.
For further information on individual apprenticeships click here.
Code of Practice
The Apprenticeship Code of Practice sets out participating employers' and apprentices' duties and responsibilities. Apprentices and employers sign up to the Code of Practice as part of the statutory apprenticeship process.
For more information on apprenticeships contact the apprenticeship section in your local Education and Training Board. For contact details of your local ETB select your county.
Further information is also available from the lead for certain apprenticeships.