Skills plan to deliver 50,000 apprenticeships over five years

Variety of measures under consideration, one of which is older school-leaving age

The Coalition plan is in response to a shortage of skilled workers in key areas. Photograph: PA

The Coalition plan is in response to a shortage of skilled workers in key areas. Photograph: PA


Some 50,000 modern apprenticeships and traineeships will be created over the next five years under a new skills strategy launched by the Government.

The blueprint aims to ensure Irish workers have the skills that enterprise needs over the coming decade.

Currently, there is a shortage of skilled workers in areas such as IT, science and engineering.

In recent months, shortages have also appeared in specific areas such as financial services, construction, freight and logistics.

The strategy – launched by four Government Ministers, including the Taoiseach and Tánaiste – proposes the establishment of a national skills council which would quickly identify emerging skills gaps.

Among its other aims include:

  • Reviewing the school-leaving age – now 16 years of age – with a view to increasing it to ensure as many pupils as possible leave secondary school with a Leaving Cert;
  • Doubling participation in lifelong learning courses from 7 per cent in 2014 to 15 per cent by 2025;
  •  Ensuring work placements are available to all transition year students in schools, as well as full-time students in further education and higher education;
  • Reviewing career guidance services and careers information for schools students and adults to identify options for improvement;
  •  Employability statements to accompany all college and further education courses;
  • The introduction of entrepreneurship education into schools.

The development of apprenticeships and boosting the standing of the further education sector is a key part of the blueprint.

‘Great career’

Minister for Skills Damien English said these alternative paths to the workforce were central to delivering the kinds of skills businesses require.

“I would urge talented young people to look seriously at an apprenticeship as the foundation for a great career,” he said.

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan said a key part of the strategy includes giving people at work a chance to improve their skills.

“This strategy will ensure increased access to high-quality and relevant education and training and skills development opportunities,” she said.

“ It will allow people to benefit from workplace learning and experience, and enable effective participation by all in the economy and society.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the ability to attract new jobs and having “our people fill those jobs” depended on having a well-educated, well-skilled and adaptable workforce.

“This strategy aims to provide an education and training system that is flexible enough to respond to a rapidly-changing environment and that can provide the mix of skills needed over the next 10 years, and beyond,” he said.