An apprenticeship is the recognised way people are trained in a craft trade or profession. The main craft trades and professions 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 Further and Higher, Research, Innovation and Science, employers and unions. An Apprenticeship Council is also in place.
An apprenticeship provides on-the-job training with an employer. It 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 2 to 4 years, during which time you will spend different periods in off-the-job training.
A craft apprenticeship will generally last 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 on the National Framework of Qualifications).
Craft apprenticeships include carpentry, plumbing, motor mechanics and electrical apprenticeships.
New apprenticeships in other areas of industry 2016-2020
Apprenticeships introduced from 2016 on lead to an award between Levels 5-10 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Each apprenticeship programme can be for between 2 and 4 years.
There are a number of models of on-the-job and off-the-job training, as well as different models of delivery and different target groups (including people already in employment). Industry-led groups (consortia), which work with education and training providers and other partners, oversee the development and roll-out of new apprenticeships.
New apprenticeships in ICT, finance and hospitality include software development, accounting technician and commis chef.
You can find information about new apprenticeships on apprenticeship.ie.
Apprenticeships and COVID-19
Payments to apprentices
Your employer may decide to close their business during the COVID-19 public health emergency and send you home. This is called a temporary lay-off. Employers can use the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme to continue to pay apprentices during a temporary lay-off. You can find out more about supports available to workers affected by COVID-19.
If you become unemployed you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
If you are getting an off-the-job training allowance and you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or medically required to self-isolate, you can continue to get your allowance. You must contact your ETB Training Centre so that your payment can continue.
If you are not getting an allowance and you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or medically required to self-isolate, you can apply for enhanced Illness Benefit.
Supports for employers
The Government announced under the July Jobs Stimulus that the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme will provide a €3,000 payment to support employers to take on new apprenticeships in 2020. The apprenticeship incentivisation scheme for employers was extended to end of December 2021.
Employers can read more about how to apply for the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme.
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, higher educational qualifications and other requirements may be required by employers.
If you don't have these qualifications, you may still register as an apprentice with an employer if you:
- Complete an approved preparatory training course followed by an assessment interview.
- 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 for some apprenticeships.
Generally an apprentice does not pay fees. However, apprentices pay a pro-rata registration fee (student contribution) if their off-the-job training takes place within a Higher Education Institute such as an Institute of Technology. The registration fee is generally based on the amount of time the apprentice spends in the Higher Education Institute. You can find information about the pro-rata registration fee on apprenticeship.ie.
Apprentices are not eligible for the student grant.
Rates of apprenticeship wages/allowances can vary depending on the type of apprenticeship and the industry you have chosen:
- Apprenticeships developed before 2016: While you are training on the job, your employer will pay you a recommended apprenticeship wage. The ETB pay a weekly allowance equivalent to that wage while you are training off the job. In some cases, the ETB will contribute to your travel and accommodation costs.
- Apprenticeships developed in 2016 and after: Your employer will pay you for the duration of the apprenticeship. The rate of pay is agreed between you and your employer.
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 details about applying.
New apprenticeships in other areas of industry
Apply to the industry lead for the apprenticeship you are interested in. You can also contact the Apprenticeship Section of your local ETB for information.