An apprenticeship is the recognised way people are trained to become craftspeople. The main craft trades have been designated by SOLAS and come within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system, which is organised by SOLAS in co-operation with the Department of Education and Skills, employers and unions. An Apprenticeship Council has also been established.
An apprenticeship provides on-the-job training with an employer. An apprenticeship usually alternates between off-the-job training in an education centre and on-the-job training at your employer's workplace. An apprenticeship generally lasts for 4 years, during which time you will spend 3 different periods in off-the-job training.
Generally, the first off-the-job training phase will take place in an Education and Training Board (ETB) Training Centre while the subsequent off-the-job training phases will take place in an Institute of Technology.
The skills you develop will be assessed through on-the-job competence testing as well as off-the-job modular assessment and examinations and, if you complete these assessments successfully, you will be awarded an Advanced Certificate – craft (level 6).
To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you must be at least 16 years of age and you are expected to have a minimum of grade D in 5 subjects in the Junior Certificate or equivalent exam. However, if you don't have these qualifications, you can still register as an apprentice with an employer if you:
- Complete an approved preparatory training course followed by an assessment interview. There is a specific preparatory training course available for people with disabilities
- Are over 18 years of age and have at least 3 years of relevant work experience, in which case you will also be asked to do an assessment interview.
You will be asked to pass a colour-vision test approved by for some apprenticeships.
Generally an apprentice does not pay fees. However, the student contribution is levied on apprentices attending Institutes of Technology – this is usually the fourth and fifth phase of an apprenticeship. Apprentices are not eligible for the student grant.
The maximum rate of the student contribution for the academic year 2017-2018 is €3,000 - €1000 for apprentices attending phases no longer than 10-11 weeks. The student contribution is apportioned for the time an apprentice spends in the Institute of Technology.
While you are training on the job, your employer will pay you a recommended apprenticeship wage. If you are training in certain sectors, SOLAS pay a weekly allowance equivalent to that wage while you are training off the job. In all other industrial sectors, your off-the-job payments will be the responsibility of your employer, although SOLAS will contribute to any necessary travel and accommodation costs.
Annual leave: Your statutory holiday entitlements continue to accrue during the off-the-job phases, but must be taken during the on-the-job phases at times agreed with your employer.
How to apply
If you are interested in taking up an apprenticeship contact the Apprenticeship Section of your local ETB. You will be interviewed to identify the course that will best suit your needs.