Apprenticeships: a proven route to success

1 Feb 2024, 12:27

When it comes to deciding on a career path to follow, the route that traditionally comes to mind is full time study in college or university. While many will take this route to their chosen career, it might not be for everyone.

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So, is there another way of getting a qualification that will help you find employment in your chosen career? Apprenticeships are a great alternative to a full-time college course. These programmes alternate phases of on-the-job and off-the-job training and development and provide an opportunity to get a recognised qualification while at the same time gaining practical experience relevant to your chosen career and being paid.

How does it work?

Generally, the duration of an apprenticeship is a minimum of four years consisting of alternating phases of training – three off-the-job phases and four on-the-job phases. The ability to apply the knowledge gained and skills learnt during off-the-job phases spent in a training centre, Institute of Technology or another approved training provider, to the day-to-day operations of a business, is a key benefit of apprenticeship and one which appeals to many. This, coupled with the benefit of earning a salary while training further enhances the appeal of apprenticeships.

Apprentices are assessed on a structured, on-going basis throughout their apprenticeship. Modular assessments incorporating course work, standardised practical assessments and theoretical assessments are carried out during the off-the-job training phases. During the on-the-job training phases of apprenticeship, the apprentice’s competence is assessed to specified standards by the employer.

On successful completion of an apprenticeship, a Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft is awarded. Recognised both nationally and internationally, this qualification opens up further opportunities in career development or progression to study further. Those awarded the Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft are also eligible for consideration for entry into related degree programmes in the Institutes of Technology provided other special entry requirements are met.

There are currently 60 different programmes from diverse sectors such as property, tech, engineering, construction, logistics and finance. More than 8,400 Irish employers are now using apprenticeship as a talent pipeline

Craft occupations under the apprenticeship programme have been designated by SOLAS and come within the scope of the statutory apprenticeship system, which is organised in Ireland by SOLAS in co-operation with the Department of Education and Skills, the Higher Education Authority, employers and unions.

How do you become an apprentice?

The requirements for becoming an apprentice vary between programmes. The minimum age is usually between 16 and 18 years old, with no upper limit for age. The educational requirements vary depending on the programme you choose. If you do not meet these requirements, you may be eligible for recognition of prior learning (RPL). This takes into consideration work and other experience. You may also be able to do a pre-apprenticeship course to compensate. For some apprenticeships passing a colour vision test is a mandatory requirement. However, be warned.

To start an apprenticeship, you must obtain employment as an apprentice in your chosen apprenticeship by an employer who is approved by SOLAS to train apprentices. You may have a relative, neighbour or friend who works in a craft occupation or you may know a company operating in the trade in your area that might consider recruiting you as an apprentice. Staff in your local Department of Social Protection Employment Services office and senior training advisors in your local education and training board offices may also be able to help with matching job vacancies to registered individuals where possible.

Employers too can reap the benefits of apprenticeships. Apprenticeship courses are based on uniform, pre-specified and industry agreed standards and comply with current and future needs of the occupation. Through the systematic development and assessment of skills, knowledge and competencies, apprentices become more productive and reach efficient worker standards more quickly.

The demand for apprentices is growing with the recovery of the economy. There is a wide range of construction related apprenticeships currently available including trades such as brick and stone laying, carpentry and joinery, construction plant fitting, and electrical to name but a few. As activity in the construction industry continues to grow, the demand for skilled employees in these trades will increase. A full list of trades covered by the standards-based apprenticeship is available on www.solas.ie .

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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