New training course participants can continue to claim PUP, Minister says

Covid-19 pandemic ‘forced us to confront skills shortages’, says Simon Harris

More than 1,000 employers have applied for a grant-aided Government scheme to take on apprentices this year.

As the State begins the roll-out next month of a plan to increase the number of apprentices to 10,000 a year, it emerged that 1,358 employers have applied to the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme to recruit 2,350 new apprentices.

Employers will receive a grant of €3,000 for each trainee they take on and register between March and June this year.

The figures were revealed as Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris launched a 'one-stop online shop' for those who have lost their jobs, offering free retraining and upskilling courses.

The online portal – – is particularly aimed at people in the hospitality and tourism sector. Those participating in courses will still be able to claim the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP).

Options include short part-time courses, courses for individuals in employment or an option to return to third level.

“There are so many options out there for people but the system is complex and can overburden some people,” Mr Harris said.

“This online portal offers people a clear picture of what is on offer, how they can access it and the supports available to people also.”

He added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to confront many of the skills shortages we have.

“We must ensure our people have access to the skills they need to succeed in life; and Irish business has the people with the skills they need to grow. This is also critical to securing our recovery and ensuring Ireland’s people share in that recovery.”

In February, the Government will formally announce its plan to increase the number of apprentices to 10,000 a year, along with strategies for increasing the number of women engaging in apprenticeships.

It will also set targets for apprenticeships in the public sector. Current figures show as few as 200 craft apprentices in employment across the public sector, while there are 40 ICT and 10 accounting technician apprentices across 10 Government departments and agencies.