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Coronavirus/COVID-19 UPDATE

28 July Update:  Preparing for Craft Apprenticeship Training from September 2020


Dear Employers and Apprentices

Following on from alternative theory assessments for over 2,000 craft apprentices during May-June there is intensive work underway to complete outstanding practical assessments and restart off-the-job training in September 2020. This is when education and training facilities around the country are due to re-open.

We are looking at all options to maximise training provision in compliance with the public health guidelines but also with the aim of enabling apprentices to progress in their training as quickly as possible.

Prior to the Covid-19 shutdown we may have written to you regarding scheduling of apprentices to off-the-job training. A rescheduling exercise is being completed as a matter of priority. However, due to the public health restrictions, including social distancing, not all apprentices will receive a scheduling call for September 2020. In some cases the location of off-the-job training may have changed.

We have reinstated all apprentices on the waiting list and will schedule based on those waiting longest on the day of scheduling.
We will notify you as soon as possible of the scheduled location for apprentices. We know that you will need as much notice as possible of the dates scheduled.

If additional capacity becomes available before classes commence in September, we may be in contact with you at short notice regarding these places.
In so far as possible we urge that the scheduled offer is accepted, so that apprentices’ training can proceed.

Thank you for your ongoing support.
SOLAS, 24 July 2020

24th June: Please note there have been changes to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to accommodate apprentices on off-the-job training. Please click here for the update

22 JUNE 2020 update regarding the national Register of Apprentices and the Apprenticeship Code of Practice

This update is valid from 22 June 2020. It builds on the updates provided for apprentices and apprenticeship employers on from12 March to-date as Ireland has responded to the COVID-19 virus. 

National Register of Apprentices

Apprentices who have been unable to continue their learning on- or off-the-job during the months of March to June 2020 inclusive due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions remain on the national Register of Apprentices. Over the coming weeks the employment status of apprentices is being gathered by the SOLAS Authorised Officer network and is being recorded on the National Register of Apprentices. Employers will be asked to provide an update on the status of their apprentices via the SOLAS Authorised Officer network.

Apprenticeship Code of Practice

The Apprenticeship Code of Practice includes requirements of employers and apprentices regarding the date of completion of an apprenticeship, time-served requirements in the case of craft apprenticeships, and requirements regarding notice of short-time working and arrangements for same (Sections 5, 6 and 8 (u)).
During the months of
March to June 2020 inclusive, apprentices who have been prevented in engaging in their on-the-job or off-the-job training by the COVID-19 restrictions will not have their apprenticeship temporarily or otherwise suspended. In the case of craft apprenticeships, the national restrictions will not affect apprentices’ record of time-served. However, from 01 July 2020, apprentices who remain laid off by their employer will be recorded as such on the National Register of Apprentices. SOLAS will engage with affected apprentices and their employers to help identify next steps.

Off-the-job training for apprentices

In line with advice from Government, as of June 2020, face-to-face training for apprentices including assessments remains suspended. Certain assessments for apprentices who were close to completion of an off-the-job phase in March 2020 are being completed. These apprentices, and their employers, have been contacted. Work is underway to plan resumption of off-the-job training as soon as feasible and within the Government Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. Some further details on off-the-job training arrangements are as follows:

  • Apprentices scheduled for Phase 2 off-the-job training during March-August 2020 may resume on-the-job work and training with their employers. Arrangements for completion of Phase 2 training and assessment are being planned and will be communicated as soon as feasible. Where apprentices return to their employers the Education and Training Board should be informed.
  • Craft apprentices scheduled for Phase 2 off-the-job training March-August 2020 who cannot return to their employer will continue to be paid their training allowance until the end of their scheduled phase of off-the-job training.
  • Apprentices who were receiving an accommodation allowance prior to the 26th March will continue to receive that allowance for the duration of off-the-job training.
  • Travel allowances will not be paid while the Training Centres, IoTs and Technological University Dublin are closed for on-campus teaching.

Arrangements for apprenticeship will continue to evolve in line with the Government Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business and the associated public health guidelines. Further updates will be provided when available.

Note on the Junior Cycle Class of 2020 and eligibility for access to National Craft Apprenticeships

Cancellation of the 2020 Junior Cycle Examinations due to COVID-19 pandemic
As part of the response to COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, following recommendations from an advisory group of stakeholders as part of planning for the State Examinations, a decision was made by the Minister for Education and Skills to cancel the 2020 Junior Cycle Examinations, with Adult Learners to be given the opportunity to take final examinations in Autumn 2020.

Instead of sitting the Junior Cycle examinations students will receive the following:
  • A State Certificate of completion of Junior Cycle from the Department of Education and Skills, to be issued in Autumn 2020. The Certificate will confirm completion of the Junior Cycle programme of study, including the list of subjects, short courses and/or priority learning units studied and the level at which the subject was studied.
  • A School Report setting out the learning achievements of students in Junior Cycle. Students will receive a written report from their school on the broad range of learning that they have achieved in each subject, short course and/or priority learning unit at the end of Junior Cycle. This assessment of their learning will be provided by their teachers. Schools will have autonomy in how this assessment is to be arrived at and the format in which the report is provided. 
Eligibility arrangements for Craft Apprenticeships
Within National Craft Apprenticeships, eligibility for apprentices is, at a minimum, to hold Grade D (Junior Certificate subjects) or Achieved (Junior Cycle subjects) in 5 subjects at the Junior Certificate/Junior Cycle award or approved equivalent. Given that the Junior Certificate/Cycle examinations will not now take place in 2020, and to avoid any unfair disadvantage for young people wishing to access craft apprenticeship, it has been determined that the 2020 State Certificate and the School Report provided to Junior Certificate students will be deemed to be an ‘approved equivalent’ as per the eligibility requirements.

Apprentices may present their 2020 State Certificate and accompanying School Report to employers, training providers and SOLAS Authorised Officers confirm their eligibility for a craft apprenticeship. To note: The above requirements are deemed to be the minimum entry requirement for craft apprenticeship. Employers may require prospective apprentices to have achieved a higher level of award than the Junior Cycle.

This arrangement specifically applies to those learners who were due to complete the Junior Certificate/Cycle in 2020. It does not apply for learners who complete or completed the Junior Certificate/Cycle in any other year.
For reference: Extract from Statutory Instrument No. 168/1997 - Labour Services Act 1987 - Apprenticeship Rules 1997 on eligibility for craft apprenticeships

 “4. A person entering employment as an apprentice shall have the following, as a minimum—
( a ) Grade D in five (5) subjects in the Department of Education's Junior Certificate examination, or approved equivalent, or
( b ) Completed to the satisfaction of An Foras an approved pre-apprenticeship course, or
( c ) Completed to the satisfaction of An Foras a course for persons with disabilities at a Centre approved by An Fóras, or
( d ) In the case of persons being over 25 years of age who do not meet the requirements under (a) not less than three years work experience acceptable to An Fóras in a relevant designated industrial activity.
In respect of (b), (c) and (d) above applicants must undergo a structured assessment interview approved by An Fóras and achieve a minimum standard to be specified by An Fóras from time to time.”