What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a programme of structured education and training which formally combines and alternates learning in the work place with learning in an education or training centre.

It is a dual system, a blended combination of on-the-job employer-based training and off-the-job training which:

  •  prepares the participant for a specific occupation, and
  •  leads to a qualification nationally recognised on the National Framework of Qualifications from Level 5-Level 10.

Apprentices are employed by an approved employer for the duration of the programme which is generally between 2-4 years. Apprenticeship programmes provide at least 50% workplace based learning.

Types of Apprenticeship:

Craft Apprenticeships

Since the 1970s it is estimated that over 105,000 apprentices have been trained in Ireland.  In 2016 alone there were over 3,700 new registrations on craft apprenticeships in a range of sectors including Engineering, Electrical, Motor and Construction.

A craft apprentice is someone training to become a fully qualified craftsperson.  Craft apprenticeships are generally comprised of seven phases, three off-the-job and four on-the-job.

The QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft is awarded on successful completion of the craft apprenticeship.

New Apprenticeships 2016-2020

In 2013 the Minister for Education and Skills, announced a review of apprenticeship training in Ireland which resulted in the formation of the Apprenticeship Council and from this the National Apprenticeship System.  A Call for Proposals for apprenticeships in new occupations issued in 2015.

The new Apprenticeship will lead to an award between Levels 5-10 on the National Framework of Qualifications.  Each apprenticeship programme can be between 2-4 years in duration.  Diverse models of training on-and-off the job are used, as well as different models of delivery and target groups (including those already in employment).

Apprenticeship development and roll-out is overseen by industry-led groups (consortia) working with education and training providers and other partners.  All new apprenticeships developed in Ireland after 2016 will follow this new apprenticeship approach and they will:

  • Be industry led
  • Be two years duration as a minimum
  • Involve learning that alternates between a workplace and an educational or training institute
  • Be a minimum of 50% on the job training
  • Be part of formal Education and Training
  • Be substantial in depth and duration, in order to prepare Apprentices to work autonomously and competently in a specific occupation
  • Apprentices emplyed and paid under a Contract of Apprenticeship
  • Apprentices paid a salary for the duration of the apprenticeship (on-the-job and off-the-job)

For a list of Current Apprenticeships and Apprenticeships in Development click here

For further information on any of these individual apprenticeships click here

Find an ApprenticeshipApprenticeship Jobs is a portal to connect employers with people wishing to pursue an apprenticeship.  Apprenticeships on this site are designed by industry-led groups, supporting growth and education.  All apprenticeships offered on this site are eligible for SOLAS financial support and will result in a QQI award on successful completion. www.apprenticeshipjobs.ie

For further Apprenticeship information go to www.apprenticeship.ie 

Action plan to expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship in Ireland 2016-2020 (pdf)

Central to Skills Development in Ireland Booklet - September 2019 (pdf)


Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme for employers - July 2020

The incentive support covers all national apprenticeship programmes - 58 programmes as of August 2020 - and will apply to any new apprenticeship programmes which are launched in 2020.

Apprenticeship employers are eligible for a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice who is registered between the period 01 March and 31 December 2020. €2,000 per apprentice is payable at the point of registration. A further €1,000 is payable in Quarter 3 2021 for each eligible apprentice retained on their apprenticeship.

Click here for more information

Junior Cycle Class of 2020 and eligibility for access to National Craft Apprenticeships

Cancellation of the 2020 Junior Cycle Examinations due to COVID-19 pandemic

As part of the response to COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, following recommendations from an advisory group of stakeholders as part of planning for the State Examinations, a decision was made by the Minister for Education and Skills to cancel the 2020 Junior Cycle Examinations, with Adult Learners to be given the opportunity to take final examinations in Autumn 2020.

Instead of sitting the Junior Cycle examinations students will receive the following:

  • A State Certificate of completion of Junior Cycle from the Department of Education and Skills, to be issued in Autumn 2020. The Certificate will confirm completion of the Junior Cycle programme of study, including the list of subjects, short courses and/or priority learning units studied and the level at which the subject was studied.
  • A School Report setting out the learning achievements of students in Junior Cycle. Students will receive a written report from their school on the broad range of learning that they have achieved in each subject, short course and/or priority learning unit at the end of Junior Cycle. This assessment of their learning will be provided by their teachers. Schools will have autonomy in how this assessment is to be arrived at and the format in which the report is provided.

Eligibility arrangements for Craft Apprenticeships

Within National Craft Apprenticeships, eligibility for apprentices is, at a minimum, to hold Grade D (Junior Certificate subjects) or Achieved (Junior Cycle subjects) in 5 subjects at the Junior Certificate/Junior Cycle award or approved equivalent. Given that the Junior Certificate/Cycle examinations will not now take place in 2020, and to avoid any unfair disadvantage for young people wishing to access craft apprenticeship, it has been determined that the 2020 State Certificate and the School Report provided to Junior Certificate students will be deemed to be an 'approved equivalent' as per the eligibility requirements.

Apprentices may present their 2020 State Certificate and accompanying School Report to employers, training providers and SOLAS Authorised Officers confirm their eligibility for a craft apprenticeship. To note: The above requirements are deemed to be the minimum entry requirement for craft apprenticeship. Employers may require prospective apprentices to have achieved a higher level of award than the Junior Cycle.

This arrangement specifically applies to those learners who were due to complete the Junior Certificate/Cycle in 2020. It does not apply for learners who complete or completed the Junior Certificate/Cycle in any other year.

For reference: Extract from Statutory Instrument No. 168/1997 - Labour Services Act 1987 - Apprenticeship Rules 1997 on eligibility for craft apprenticeships

"4. A person entering employment as an apprentice shall have the following, as a minimum—

( a ) Grade D in five (5) subjects in the Department of Education's Junior Certificate examination, or approved equivalent, or

( b ) Completed to the satisfaction of An Foras an approved pre-apprenticeship course, or

( c ) Completed to the satisfaction of An Foras a course for persons with disabilities at a Centre approved by An Fóras, or

( d ) In the case of persons being over 25 years of age who do not meet the requirements under (a) not less than three years work experience acceptable to An Fóras in a relevant designated industrial activity.

In respect of (b), (c) and (d) above applicants must undergo a structured assessment interview approved by An Fóras and achieve a minimum standard to be specified by An Fóras from time to time."



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