Ask Brian: Is my son too bright for an apprenticeship?

Modern apprenticeships offer a valuable alternative route to higher level qualifications

My son is studying business and accounting for his Leaving Cert and is interested in doing a related course when he finishes school. His guidance counsellor has advised him to explore new apprenticeships in this area. However, he’s bright and could easily get the points for a third-level course. Can you offer any advice?

Apprenticeships have changed radically in the past few years and may in fact be a perfect option for your son.

These new apprenticeships are aimed largely at school-leavers with a view to offering a real, tangible alternative to the traditional CAO college experience.

The programmes feature, at their core, a method by which school-leavers can lay the foundations of a high-quality, well-paid career journey, while working and studying at the same time.


It’s not surprising, given the regard with which going to college is held in Irish society, that “apprenticeship” still seems to conjure up all sorts of negative connotations.

Many parents may be nervous of encouraging their children to opt for an apprenticeship over a third-level place. As a society, we need to put such out-of-date thinking behind us. In a world that continues to be shaped by the ability of its workforce to be highly skilled and agile in its application and attitudes to work, modern apprenticeships offer a real and valuable route to higher-level qualifications.

As your son is interested in business I would suggest he explores three relatively new apprenticeships:

Insurance Practice, offered through IT Sligo, in partnership with the Insurance Institute of Ireland, involves four days a week on-the-job training, and one day a week off-the-job and online. They graduate with a level 8 degree.

The Financial Services Specialist apprenticeship, delivered by the National College of Ireland in partnership with Financial Services Ireland, is a two-year programme. It involves four days a week on-the-job training, and one day a week at NCI. Students emerge with a higher diploma in financial services analytics.

The International Accounting Technician apprenticeship, run in partnership with Accounting Technicians Ireland, is a two-year programme which involves four days a week on-the-job training, and one day a week off-the-job. Students emerge with a level 6 advanced certificate in accounting,

The apprenticeship is delivered in a range of Education and Training Board (ETB) locations in Cavan/Monaghan ETB, Dublin, Cork, Dún Laoghaire and Waterford/Wexford.

In the case of all three apprenticeships, the employer pays the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship.

The rate of pay is agreed between the employer and the apprentice but will be a minimum of about €20,000 a year. Check online ( for more details.