26 January, 2017 - Ministers Bruton and Halligan announce 50,000 apprenticeships and traineeships by 2020 under new Government plan

€20m Additional Funding provided in 2017;13 New Apprenticeships by End of 2017

Over 120 Apprenticeship and Traineeship Schemes by 2020

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, together with the Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, have today (26th January 2017) launched the Government’s Plan to expand apprenticeships and traineeships in Ireland, aimed at delivering 50,000 apprenticeship and traineeship registrations by 2020.  The Plan was launched in Piranha Bar, a creative digital studio producing commercials, films and animated content in Dublin City Centre, which is helping to develop an exciting new traineeship in visual effects.

The publication of this Plan is a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training system the best in Europe within a decade.

There are currently 27 apprenticeships in Ireland, in areas such as construction, engineering and the motor sector.  Other countries have a much broader tradition of apprenticeship.  Germany has over 300 apprenticeships, across a wide range of sectors.

Under our Plan, Apprenticeships and Traineeships will give an exciting career path for many young people. Apprentices and trainees will be embedded in enterprises and will get the chance to learn skills and get hands on experience. It will give young people the opportunity to acquire applied, technical skills within a variety of sectors, and provide a very practical grounding which will stand to them as they move through their career and take advantage of promotional opportunities. For companies, the aptitudes which will be learned by these apprentices and trainees will be invaluable. It will help exporting companies based in Ireland to scale their business, to grow their exports and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a global economy.

The Traineeship and Apprenticeship Plan is aimed at broadening and deepening the impact of traineeships and apprenticeships so they impact across a range of sectors and regions. The target in the Action Plan for Education will see a total of 50,000 apprenticeship and traineeship registrations by 2020.

The plan is based on the view that in order to have a properly functioning skills development system to support a growing economy, and in order to provide career paths for people of different types of interest and abilities, we must develop a stronger pipeline of apprenticeships and traineeships. Higher education institutions alone will supply a portion of our skills needs, but there is a need for stronger alternative routes and alternative sources of the different types of skills that a growing economy requires.

The Plan will accelerate the delivery of new apprenticeships and traineeships:

  • Roadmap with annual targets for the number of new Apprenticeship and Traineeships up to 2020
  • Clear 10 step path for the development of new apprenticeships and Traineeships 
  • 2017 call for new Apprenticeship and Traineeship proposals to refresh the existing pipeline
  • Details of how state agencies, education and training providers and employers will work together
  • Enhance collaboration between the three education agencies SOLAS, HEA and QQI, in liaison with the Department of Education and Skills
  • Proactively engage with employers and enterprise to secure buy in and engagement with the apprenticeship and traineeship routes
  • Strategically build capacity within the education and training system, in the areas that include curriculum design, quality assurance and enterprise engagement; and mechanisms to underpin expansion with robust, ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
  • Launch an apprenticeship web portal; Enhance national IT systems and supports for apprenticeship underway to support connections with employers and apprentices nationally
  • Run a Promotional campaign, to target SMEs and FDI, guided by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the regional skills fora.
  • Review patterns of participation in apprenticeship and traineeship by groups in apprenticeship, including female participation; identify any barriers existing, and makes recommendations for the future

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, the first of the new programmes developed through the Apprenticeship Council’s first call for proposals, launched in September 2016 and an Industrial Engineer Apprenticeship commenced in November 2016.  13 further new apprenticeships are due to launch later this year in various sectors including medical devices, polymer processing and financial services.

A campaign to promote apprenticeship is currently being developed by SOLAS in consultation with key partners, including the Apprenticeship Council. The campaign will raise awareness and promote the value of apprenticeship for individual apprentices and for employers and it will cover both existing apprenticeships and the new apprenticeships now coming on stream.

Minister Bruton said:

“The Action Plan for Education, aiming to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe, is committed to reaching 50,000 registrations by 2020. This will not be easy to deliver, and will require sustained cooperation from industry, and strong support and coordination from the State.

 “One of the greatest causalities of the recession were apprenticeships and traineeships. Enrolment in their career pathway collapsed and fell by over 80%. This closed down an important pathway which is a characteristic element in many of the most successful education systems. We now need to do two things. Firstly, rebuild these traditional pathways; and secondly build new apprenticeships and traineeships in areas where they haven’t traditionally existed. We need to rebuild these options into a new robust pathway which will become an attractive and respected option for at least 20% of our school leavers. This would see the present apprenticeship and traineeship system expand significantly, covering all major economic sectors, and doubling enrolments to 14,000. This will require us to forge a new partnership with employers, both in the public and private sectors.

 “Working with employers, we will strengthen apprenticeship and traineeship in Ireland, increasing the range of courses and increasing the number of student places to achieve the Government targets.

“Apprenticeship and traineeship is a very exciting option for many young people. Industrial leaders in many sectors place a very high value on a trained apprentice or trainee, with many moving into managerial positons.

 “I am very confident that we now have a clear pathway for developing new apprenticeships, clear annual targets for apprenticeship and traineeship registrations as well as targets for the development of new programmes. It is my ambition to develop apprenticeships and traineeships as high quality and attractive options for school leavers, other learners and crucially for the parents of Ireland who have such an influence into career choice.”

“I want to acknowledge and thank the Apprenticeship Council, state agencies such as SOLAS, the Higher Education Authority and Quality and Qualifications Ireland, education providers, employers and unions for their work and strategic input on the expansion programme to date and look forward to continued collaboration in the years ahead.”

 Minister of State Halligan said:

 “Employer buy in is critical as the apprenticeship model is dependent on employers taking on apprentices.  It is essential that key stakeholders continue to build on existing and foster new relationships within the enterprise community and that all sectors of the economy embrace the challenge to develop new apprenticeships.”

 Pat O’Doherty, Chairman of the Apprenticeship Council and Chief Executive of ESB said:

“Through this plan we are building education-enterprise partnerships that will be a game-changer for Ireland. We all have a part to play, employers, educators, apprentices, trainees, the agencies of the State and the Apprenticeship Council. Success will mean a major step forward, and a major contribution to our ongoing growth and prosperity as a country.”

Notes to Editor:

Traineeships have been part of the Irish education and training system for over twenty years. Over that period there have been an estimated 30,000 trainee participants, with over 1,500 participant companies.   The Plan now sets out annual targets and associated actions to extend the traineeship model over the period to 2020 and also sets an overall development timeline for new traineeships of 8-12 months.  It also sets out how SOLAS and Education and Training Boards will engage with employers to examine ways of reactivating ‘dormant’ traineeships as well as extending an entirely new career traineeship model. 

Apprenticeship is a programme of structured education and training which formally combines and alternates learning in the workplace with learning in an education and training centre. An apprenticeship prepares participants for a specific occupation and leads to a qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications. Since the 1970s it is estimated that over 105,000 apprentices have been trained in Ireland. In 2016 there were over 3,700 new registrations on the 27 craft-based apprenticeships. There is a current population of 10,316 apprentices with 3,919 participating employers (December 2016). The Plan now sets out a clear pathway for developing new apprenticeships, a development timeline of 12-15 months, clear annual targets for apprenticeship registrations as well as targets for the development of new programmes. The Plan commits to a new call for proposals in 2017 to refresh the pipeline already established through the 2015 call and also commits to examining the potential for public sector engagement with the apprenticeship system.

The Plan was launched at the offices of Piranha Bar, a creative digital studio producing commercials, films and animated content in Dublin City Centre.  Piranha Bar are one of a number of employers in the animation and post production area working with City of Dublin Education and Training Board on the development of an exciting new traineeship in visual effects.