Apprenticeship Action Plan

On Monday 19th April, Minister Simon Harris announced the Action Plan for Apprenticeships 2021-2025. The Action Plan was created to ensure the apprenticeship system continues to deliver for both learners and employers and to deliver a modern apprenticeship system that is reflective of Irish Society and supports both learners and employers along the way. While there are currently 60 programmes leading to valuable qualifications, the Action Plan aims to expand the types of programmes available and increase the number of apprentices to 10,000 per year by 2025.

The main deliverables of the Apprenticeship Action Plan include:

  • Setting out the structures for the national apprenticeship system of the future. This includes the establishment of the National Apprenticeship Office, the National Apprenticeship Alliance and starting the process for migrating all existing apprenticeships to the single model set out in the Plan.
  • In 2022, financial supports for employers and a bursary for apprentices in target groups will be launched.
  • The National Apprenticeship Office will facilitate increased visibility of apprenticeship to employers and prospective apprentices and to registered apprentices who will also be supported with greater visibility on their progress through their apprenticeship programme via a user-centred Apprenticeship Management System. Employers will be able to access information on their apprentices from across different programmes, allowing for end-to-end management of company apprentices – from recruitment and selection, apprentice application process, programme progress, employer grant payments and apprenticeship consortia-led engagement and development opportunities.
  • Between 2022 and 2025, the existing centralised craft apprenticeship system will move to the single apprenticeship model. This will move the decision making for delivery of craft apprenticeship closer to the employers, employee representatives and the education and training providers. It will also fully integrate the provision of apprenticeship within the quality structures of respective higher education providers.
  • Linkages to and from major career guidance and further and higher application resources will drive initial recognition of the range of offerings available to learners across the system, including an assessment of the ability to facilitate expressions of interest in apprenticeship through the CAO.
  • Towards the end of every year, a report will be brought to Government which sets out the progress on the plan to date and define clear actions for the coming year.

Ireland’s craft apprenticeships have a strong tradition and reputation of excellence. The migration of these apprenticeships to a distributed model will maintain and enhance this reputation, providing flexibility in programme delivery at a national level, while at the same time, safeguarding its quality.

Details of the Apprenticeship Action Plan 2021-2025 can be found here: Apprenticeship Action Plan 2021-2025

COVID-19 Update as of 16th April 2021

Following a switch to online learning in January 2021, almost 3,000 craft apprentices are now back on further and higher education campuses around the country to complete essential practical training and assessment at Phases 2, 4 and 6. This is in line with public health guidelines.

New Phase 2 classes have begun recently or are due to start soon, starting online and with transfer on-campus as soon as is feasible. New Phase 2 classes will continue to be scheduled over the coming weeks and months. New Phase 4 and Phase 6 classes are planned from September 2021.

Off-the-job training has been badly affected by the pandemic restrictions, with significant numbers of craft apprentices waiting to be scheduled for their training. Arrangements to enable all apprentices to complete their off-the-job training as speedily as possible are a number 1 priority. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD recently announced €20m funding to increase craft apprenticeship training capacity. Work is underway around the country to put additional workshops in place. In addition, it is expected that the national vaccination programme will enable a return to full apprenticeship classes on-campus later in the year.

We appreciate how difficult the restrictions of the past year have been for all involved in apprenticeship training and would like to thank apprentices and employers for your resilience and patience. We are looking forward to a much brighter and more positive period ahead and to supporting and working with you over the coming months.

Regards,

SOLAS