The new National Apprenticeship Office is driving reform in the national apprenticeship system under the banner of Generation Apprenticeship, spearheading a range of new initiatives to support both employers and apprentices. The Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 sets out a roadmap for a single apprenticeship system and a five-year strategy to deliver on the Programme for Government commitment of reaching 10,000 new apprentice registrations per year by 2025.
Beyond traditional apprenticeships, numbers are set to reach 10,000 apprentice registrations per year under the five-year Government Action Plan aimed at boosting “earn and learn” options for school leavers.
There are now 66 apprenticeship programmes available in new industry areas that include green skills such as wind turbine maintenance and white-collar areas such as international financial services, software, biopharma and supply chain management. Up to 10 new apprenticeships are due to launch later this year, in areas that include farming, horticulture, quantity surveying and civil engineering.
New apprenticeships for accounting technicians, for retail supervisors and in sales are especially popular, and the soon-to-be launched apprenticeships in the area of agriculture and horticulture (applied horticulture, farm management, farm technician, sports turf management) are expected to be in high demand.
Apprenticeships now offer qualifications right up to PhD level, across a broad range of subjects, and also give applicants the opportunity to forge lasting connections with employers, learning on-the-job skills that will set them apart in today’s competitive labour market.
Complementing the highly valued craft apprenticeships in the likes of plumbing and electrical, programmes have diversified into new areas such as insurance, financial services, and software development, where learners earn while they learn from day one.
Apprenticeships, which range from between two to four years in duration, have undergone a sea change in recent years, in terms of diversity of subjects on offer but also a renewed uptake of the system. There are now over 26,000 apprentices training in Ireland across 66 diverse Generation Apprenticeship programmes, with 9000 employers on board, from micro businesses to large multinationals and all that is in between.
This accelerated pace of change is being championed by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, and overseen by a newly founded National Apprenticeship Office, which brings together policymakers and expertise from SOLAS and the Higher Education Authority, aiming to position apprenticeship as a third option that combines the best of both, with the added edge of employment for the apprentice.
Their increasing popularity is testament to the benefits that apprenticeship offers - strong links with industry, earning while you learn, and access to cutting edge subjects across a range of education providers nationwide. More information is available at www.apprenticeship.ie.
Generation Apprenticeship initiatives include: