Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Coronavirus/COVID-19 UPDATE

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.”

New update regarding the national Register of Apprentices and the Apprenticeship Code of Practice  during the period of shutdown due to the Covid-19 virus
The following amendments to the national Register of Apprentices  and the Code of Practice for employers and apprentices will apply for the period in which Ireland is responding 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 Covid-19 pandemic restrictions will remain on the national Register of Apprentices during the months of March, April and May 2020 inclusive. The Register will record, however, where apprentices have been so affected, and employers are requested to provide regular updates on any changes to the status of their apprentices via the SOLAS Authorised Officer network. Maximum contact with affected apprentices will be maintained by SOLAS and its partners in order to provide advice and supports, with regular updates posted on
Where apprentices are unable to work due to the Covid-19 restrictions, it is expected that employers will generally seek the Wage Subsidy payment on their behalf. Alternatively, where a temporary layoff has been required, apprentices are generally eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, or alternatively the D/EASP Jobseekers Benefit.
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, April and May 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. The national restrictions will not affect apprentices’ record of time-served, where relevant. SOLAS will again review this approach with its key stakeholders at the end of May 2020.
Updates on off the job training for apprentices:
  1. In line with advice from Government, all off-the-job training for apprentices including assessments is currently suspended.
  2. Apprentices who had been scheduled to complete their off-the-job training during March-May 2020 inclusive will return to their employers at the scheduled date.  Arrangements for completion of Phase 2 training and assessment will issue in due course.
  3. All craft apprentices held on off-the-job training will continue to be paid their training allowance.
  4. 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.  
  5. Travel allowances will not be paid while the Training Centres, IoTs and Technological University Dublin are closed for face to face teaching.

We will continue to monitor developments in line with advice from the authorities on the evolving public health situation. A decision on when the training and assessments will recommence will be made in line with this advice. Further updates will be provided when available.

Notice for Employers

Please note the Government has introduced a temporary COVID-19 Wages Subsidy Scheme, the aim of which is to provide financial support to workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Full details on the scheme can be found here: