08 May, 2017 - Ministers Bruton and Halligan welcome second call for new apprenticeship proposals

Part of Plan to More Than Double the Number of Annual Apprenticeship and Traineeship Registrations to 14,000 by 2020

The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Richard Bruton TD and the Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr John Halligan TD today welcomed the opening of the Apprenticeship Council’s second call for new apprenticeship proposals.

Minister Bruton and Minister Halligan have called on employers to come forward with apprenticeship proposals. For companies, the skills that will be learned by these apprentices will be invaluable to their future growth plans. They 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. For the apprentice, they 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.

There are currently 27 craft 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.

The recently published Action Plan to expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship in Ireland sets out how state agencies, education and training providers and employers will work together to deliver on the Action Plan for Education’s commitments on the expansion of apprenticeship in the period to 2020.  Today’s call is a key action in our plan to double the number of annual apprenticeship and traineeship registrations to 14,000 in 120 different schemes by 2020.

 Building on a strong tradition of craft apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Council has made significant progress since 2015 working with consortia in developing proposals made through the first call into new sustainable apprenticeships.  2016 saw the first of these new programmes with the launch of the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship in September and the Industrial Electrical Engineer Apprenticeship in November. 

13 further new programmes will get under way this year in various sectors such as medical devices, polymer processing, culinary and financial services.  The second call, announced today, will call for more apprenticeship proposals. The closing date for new Apprenticeship Proposals is 1st September 2017.

Minister Bruton said: 

The Action Plan for Education, aiming to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe, commits to delivering 31,000 apprenticeship registrations in the period to 2020. This will be challenging to deliver, and will require sustained cooperation from employers, engagement from employees and strong support and coordination from the State.

“One of the greatest causalities of the recession were apprenticeships. 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. I have set out my plan to rebuild these traditional pathways; and to also rebuild new apprenticeships 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 system expand significantly, covering all major economic sectors, and doubling enrolments. This will require us to forge a new partnership with employers, both in the public and private sectors.”

“To meet the ambitious targets we must continue to develop apprenticeships in new sectors of the economy.  By its nature apprenticeship is employer led and I want to encourage employers to engage with the process. This is your opportunity to get support for programmes that address the specific skill needs of your sector”.

Minister of State Halligan said:

Building on the knowledge gained from the development of apprenticeships over the last 18 months, the Apprenticeship Council is setting out a clear route to developing a new apprenticeship.

 “Employer buy in is critical as the apprenticeship model is dependent on employers taking on apprentices.  Employees too have a voice in the process and the apprenticeship system needs to be of the highest quality to support the development of long term sustainable careers.”


Notes for the Editor


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 3,800 new apprenticeship registrations. There is a current population of 10,316 apprentices with 3,919 participating employers (December 2016).

Action Plan for Education Commitments

Building on the Programme for Government, the Action Plan for Education contains a commitment to enrol 31,000 people on apprenticeship programmes in the period 2016-2020 which represents a near doubling on current activity.  The achievement of these ambitious targets will require commitment from a number of stakeholders and strong employer demand. 

Action Plan to expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship 2016 - 2020

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.

New Apprenticeships

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.

Second call for apprenticeships

A second call for proposals was announced today. 

Proposals should be submitted by 1st September 2017.

Apprenticeship Council will evaluate proposals in September/October. 

The Council has prepared a handbook “Developing a National Apprenticeship” to accompany this second call. The handbook has been prepared primarily to assist consortia involved in developing apprenticeships.

Further information is available at www.apprenticeship.ie

Marketing campaign

During 2017 a promotional campaign got underway on apprenticeship nationally, with the Apprenticeship Council, SOLAS, the HEA and consortia and other key stakeholders working in partnership. A new website www.apprenticeship.ie has been developed, and is the main anchor for promotional activity, supporting the work of individual consortia.