Apprenticeship is a programme of education and training which combines learning in the work place with learning in a training centre or educational college. Apprenticeship provides the opportunity for learning acquired off-the-job to be applied and further developed under supervision in the workplace.
To begin an apprenticeship, an applicant must be employed by an approved employer. To be eligible, the applicant must be at least 16 years of age and have a minimum of grade D in any five subjects in the Junior Certificate or equivalent. However, higher educational qualifications and other requirements may be sought by employers. For entry to some apprenticeships, applicants are required to undergo a SOLAS-approved colour vision test.
For an employer to get approved to train apprentices in a particular occupation, s/he must demonstrate that they have the capacity and the ability to provide quality, relevant on-the-job training to apprentices as per the requirements of the national apprenticeship programme and the statutory apprenticeship system overall.
The Training Officer (TO) from your local Educational and Training Board (ETB) carries out a site visit to the employer’s premises and the employer is formally assessed. The TO makes a recommendation to SOLAS on the employer’s suitability to deliver the programme.
Once an employer has been approved to train apprentices, s/he can recruit suitable candidates and register these as apprentices. To do this, the employer should contact the TO in the local ETB.
Apprentices are employed by a SOLAS-approved employer for the duration of the programme which is generally between 2-4 years. Apprenticeship programmes provide at least 50% workplace-based learning.
Apprentices pay a pro-rata registration fee for the off-the-job training which takes place in Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT). The registration fee will generally equate to the amount of time the apprentice spends in LIT. The payment of the pro-rata registration fee is made by the apprentice directly to LIT.
For apprenticeships developed before 2016, the employer pays the apprentice while s/he is being trained on-the-job. A training allowance is paid by the local ETB while the apprentice is attending the off-the-job training.
For apprenticeships developed in 2016 and after, the employer pays the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship. In all cases, the rate of pay is agreed between the employer and the apprentice.
For apprenticeships developed before 2016, a training allowance is paid by the local ETB to apprentices while attending off-the-job training. In some cases, a contribution towards travel or accommodation costs may be paid if deemed eligible.
The Apprenticeship Code of Practice sets out participating employers’ and apprentices’ duties and responsibilities. Apprentices and employers sign up to the Code of Practice as part of the statutory apprenticeship process.
To encourage specific sectors to employ female apprentices, a special female apprentice bursary may be paid to qualifying companies wishing to train apprentices in specific occupations. To find out if this applies, contact the apprenticeship section in your local Education and Training Board.