19 May, 2013 - Minister Quinn announces Review Group to develop a modern apprenticeship system

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The Review Group will examine the future of apprenticeship training in Ireland with a greater focus on work-based learning and a closer alignment of the current needs of the Irish labour market.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, today announced an important step in the Government’s plans to rebuild the economy and to ensure that the education system is closely aligned to economic needs.

The Minister announced an independent group to review apprenticeship training in Ireland, in line with international best practice. The group will consult widely with training providers, trade unions and employer representatives. 

While Ireland now has third-level attainment levels higher than the OECD average, and is achieving its targets in relation to second-level attendance rates, there has been a significant collapse in employer demand for apprentices, particularly in the construction related trades.

However, apprenticeship and other work-based training have an important role within the wider education and training sector. The purpose of this review is to identify reforms that will re-focus apprenticeship training as an alternative progression route to third-level education for school leavers.

The review will also explore the potential for connections between work-based learning and other further education and training provision. Importantly, it will identify reforms to ensure that newly qualified apprentices are well placed to secure paid employment after their training ends, with the system becoming more closely aligned with labour market needs.

The Review Group will be chaired by Kevin Duffy, the current Chairperson of the Labour Court. Membership of the review group, which is expected to complete its work before the end of the year, draws on national and international expertise including academic, business, and employee interests. 

Announcing the launch of the process, Minister Quinn said: “I want to ensure a comprehensive review, to provide an updated model of training that will deliver the skilled workforce required to meet the needs of a rapidly changing economy, with an appropriate balance between supply and demand. 

“Irelandhas been well served by a very high standard of apprenticeship training and education, which has been internationally recognised. However it is timely to examine how the current system can be amended in the context of ongoing reform of the Further Education and Training sector and the financial crisis we are experiencing.”


Notes for Editors:

 Review Group membership:

The Minister proposes to appoint the following members to the Review Group:

  • Mr Kevin Duffy (Chairperson): Mr Duffy is currently Chairman of the Labour Court
  • Dr Hilary Steedman, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics
  • Ms Sandra Guilfoyle, Human Resources Manager, Jones Engineering
  • Dr Tony Dundon,  Head of Management Discipline, School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway
  • Mr Peter Rigney, Industrial Officer, ICTU
  • Mr Tony Donohoe, Head of Education, Social & Innovation Policy, IBEC
  • Mr William Egenton, Managing Director, Dromone Engineering

Terms of Reference:

It is proposed that the consultative phase of the Review will address three key themes:

1)     Consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of the current model of Apprenticeship and what improvements can be made to its current structure

2)     An examination of the alternative methods of work-based training in Ireland

3)     Consideration of the structural mechanisms, and criteria,  under  which collaboration with industry/employers can be pursued into the future, either through improved, alternative or complementary models of work-based training

Recommendationsfrom the Review:

Following a consultation process, the Review Group shall recommend options to the Minister, recognising the broad spectrum of vocational training available, for the development of the apprentice formation system, and other work based education/training systems, including, as necessary:

  • Legislative changes;
  • Model of delivery/curriculum/ range of  crafts/ occupations ;
  • Funding and finance mechanisms;
  • Provision changes;
  • Staffing and resource implications;
  • Governance changes;
  • Transition actions resulting from recommendations.


A background issues paper has been prepared to inform the work of the Review Group. Click here to download the report