Apprenticeships are set to double to 10,000 a year under a new five-year Government plan released in April and aimed at boosting ‘earn and learn’ options for school leavers. In what is being seen as another major and necessary boost for the construction industry the Action Plan for Apprenticeship will also cover a range of new roles across the industry including key growth industries such as the green economy.
The new expanded apprenticeship roles will include wind turbine maintenance, but also be in healthcare, software and aircraft asset management. Under the new programme the number of apprentices will increase to over 30,000 registered apprentices in the next five years.
“In particular we want to ensure that there is equal access for everyone to apprenticeships, irrespective of their background, gender or age,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris at the launch of the programme.
Also outlined in one of the biggest overhauls to the apprenticeship programme in years was the announcement that a new national apprenticeship office is to be established to help drive reforms and meet the action plan targets. A total of 60 apprenticeship programmes are currently on offer, with 18 more in development.
New roles include equipment services engineer; bar manager; commercial driver; executive chief; manufacturing data integration engineer; precision machinist and quality control; software solutions architect, and stud farm assistant manager.
The five-year action plan launched by Minister Harris and Minister of State Niall Collins also seeks to make the apprenticeship application programme more efficient and streamlined. This will be done by advancing plans for a single portal for school leavers, which includes CAO options as well as alternatives in the further education and training sector.
“People learn in different ways and I want to make sure that everyone is aware apprenticeship can be for them as a route to a qualification into the future,” Minister Harris said.
The new apprenticeship programmes will see major innovations such as a pilot project which will see Erasmus-style apprenticeship placements across Europe and potential cross-border apprenticeship programmes.
In addition, the private sector will get grants of nearly €3,000 per apprentice from next year. The new action plan takes into consideration recruiting apprentices from under-represented groups such as people with disabilities, single parents or asylum seekers and providing additional supports to employers who support these groups.
The CIF welcomed the new Government-backed plan, specifically the commitment by the Department of Education to put a special emphasis of promoting apprenticeship as a valued route to a career.
“The construction sector has long been involved in the development and support of apprentices and apprenticeships and the sector by far employs more apprentices that any other industrial sector in Ireland,” said Dermot Carey, Director of Safety and Training at the CIF. “In the coming weeks we will review the entire plan and the proposals and look forward to working with all the stakeholders to make the plan a success,” he added.