What is an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are fully accredited and recognised schemes that allow people starting off in an industry to get on-the-ground training — as well as a solid education and qualification — until they become fully qualified.
There are two different kinds of apprenticeships — craft apprenticeships, and apprenticeships in other areas of industry. Craft apprenticeships generally involve some sort of manual work, such as plumbing, carpentry, mechanics or electrical, and incorporate three periods of off-the-job training, in Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and Technological Universities. Apprenticeships in new areas of industry also include elements of on- and off-the-job training, and work with various education and training providers, or industry-led groups.
There are 56 different types of apprenticeships available, with a further 16 in development.
How long does an apprenticeship last?
Apprenticeships generally last between two and four years and can vary from industry to industry and programme to programme. Most craft apprenticeships last four years.
Where can I do an apprenticeship?
Nowadays there are apprenticeships available across all kinds of industries, such as accountancy, plumbing, electrical, computing, culinary arts, pharmaceuticals, sales, property and more.
Potential apprentices must find an employer themselves, and ask them to be a part of the apprenticeship scheme. Both the apprentice and the employer must sign a formal contract of apprenticeship, agreeing that certain conditions will be met for the duration of the apprenticeship. The employer must also commit to paying the apprentice for the length of the apprenticeship.
In an effort to encourage employers to take on apprentices, there is an apprenticeship employers grant of €2,000 for each registered apprentice per year. There is also a gender-based bursary, for employers who hire apprentices in any industry with over 80% representation of a single gender, worth €2,666.
How do I find an employer?
While it is the responsibility of the apprentice to find an employer, there are many employers who regularly seek apprentices. A list of pre-approved employers who look for apprentices on a regular basis can be found at apprenticeship.ie
Prospective employers must be approved by Solas before they can hire an apprentice.
Some organisations and professional bodies run their own apprenticeship schemes, to encourage young people to enter their industry, such as Accounting Technicians Ireland, the Insurance Institute of Ireland, and others. For these types of apprenticeships, the governing bodies themselves have their own list of pre-approved employers with whom apprentices can be placed, which is continually expanding as the apprentice scheme continues to grow.
How do I know if I’m eligible for an apprenticeship?
Apprentices must be at least 16 years of age and have achieved at least five Ds in the Junior Certificate exams. There is no age limit, apprenticeships are suitable for school leavers as well as older learners and those looking to change careers. Apprenticeships that run in conjunction with different bodies may have their own eligibility criteria, with some having specific academic requirements.
What qualifications will I leave with?
Those who complete a craft apprenticeship will receive an Advanced Certificate — craft, which is NFQ level 6. Apprenticeships in other areas of industry can lead to qualifications between NFQ level 6 and 10, depending on a number of different factors.
What are the fees?
Generally, apprentices do not pay fees. However, if a portion of the apprenticeship is “off the job” and takes place in an educational institution, apprentices may have to pay a portion of the institution’s contribution charge pro-rata. This will be based upon the amount of time throughout the apprenticeship that is spent in that institution.
Can I avail of Susi or other financial assistance while doing an apprenticeship?
The SUSI grant is not available to apprentices during their apprenticeship. However, apprentices must be compensated appropriately for their work during the programme. Apprentices who have children may also qualify for the Working Family Payment.
Apprentices also accrue annual leave during on-the-job and off-the-job periods of their programme. However, these paid holiday days can only be taken during their on-the-job phases and must be agreed upon in advance with their employer.
How is the pay?
The rate of pay must be decided between the apprentice and the employer and must be included in the contract of apprenticeship. Craft apprenticeships have set phases for on- and off-the-job training. And as the apprentice returns for each off-the-job phase, he/she will see their wages rise.