Apprenticeships – What are they?
You may have heard about Apprenticeships but not understood what they are or what they involve.
Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity to train in a specific skilled area while getting paid and earning a qualification. In Ireland, there is a lack of skilled workers in certain industries. This is especially true with some losing their jobs during the pandemic. An apprenticeship is a great way to change careers and immediately start earning again.
But what exactly is an apprenticeship, and how does it work? In this blog, we’ll answer these questions and more.
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a training and education programme that combines learning in a college/university or training centre with work-based learning in a company.
At least 50% of apprenticeship learning is completed in the workplace.
When you think of an apprenticeship, you probably think of trades like carpentry, plumbing, mechanics, and electrics. These ‘traditional’ apprenticeships are called craft apprenticeships.
A craft apprenticeship generally lasts for 4 years, during that time, you will spend 3 different periods in off-the-job training. Craft apprenticeships include carpentry, plumbing, motor mechanics and electrical trades. Craft apprentices are awarded a QQI Level 6 certificate.
Since 2016, new apprenticeships introduced can be for between 2 and 4 years and lead to an award between Levels 5 and 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
There are a number of models of on-the-job and off-the-job training, as well as different models of delivery and different target groups. Industry-led groups, which work with education and training providers and other partners, oversee the development and roll-out of new apprenticeships. New apprenticeships are available in Information Communications Technology (ICT), finance, insurance and hospitality, including software development, accounting technician, insurance practitioner and commis chef.
All successful apprentices receive a QQI qualification which is recognised internationally.
What types of apprenticeships are available?
There are currently 62 different types of apprenticeships available, and over 8,400 employers are approved to train apprentices. Check out the Apprenticeship website to see exactly what’s available.
Currently, there are several apprenticeships under development in the areas of Agriculture, Construction, Engineering. Finance and Logistics.
Will I earn money?
Yes, you will! Apprentices ‘earn while they learn’ – they have a formal employment contract and are paid a salary for the duration of their apprenticeship training.
If you are doing a craft apprenticeship, you will be paid the recommended apprenticeship wage by your employer while you are on the job. When you are in college, the Education and Training Board will pay you a weekly allowance that is the same as your on-the-job wage.
If you are doing a new apprenticeship (those developed since 2016), your employer will pay you for the duration of the apprenticeship. The rate of pay is agreed between you and your employer. How much you will earn will depend on the apprenticeship programme you do.
Important to note: Your annual leave entitlements continue to add up when you are off the job. But you must take them when you are on the job and with your employer’s agreement.
If you are an apprentice with children, you should investigate whether you qualify for the Working Family Payment (WFP). It is a weekly tax-free payment for employees who have children. Apprentices qualify for the payment once they meet the other criteria.
How do I qualify for an apprenticeship?
Generally speaking, you need to be at least 16 years old and have a minimum Grade D in 5 subjects in the Junior Cert or equivalent. However, some apprenticeships and employers might require higher qualifications and other requirements. It all depends on the apprenticeship.
But don’t worry if you don’t meet the criteria – there are alternative routes to accessing an apprenticeship! If you don’t have the required qualifications, you can complete an approved preparatory training course followed by an interview, or if you are over 18 and have a minimum of 3 years of relevant work experience, you can do an assessment interview.
Some apprenticeships will require you to pass a colour vision test.
What does it cost?
Apprentices do not pay tuition fees. However, they have to pay the Student Contribution Charge (also known as the registration fee). They do not pay the full amount but pay a part of the fee based on how long they will be in college.
For example, the student contribution charge is capped at €3,000 per academic year for full-time students. For an apprentice who might spend a 10/11 week semester at college, they would only pay €1,000.
Apprenticeships do not qualify for the SUSI grant.
Who can be an apprentice?
Anyone can be an apprentice as long as they meet the criteria! Apprentices are learners of all ages who come from all types of educational and employment backgrounds. – there are currently over 24,000 apprentices completing training in Ireland and they include school leavers, older learners, people who wanted a career change, women, people with disabilities and people from diverse backgrounds.
How do I apply for an apprenticeship?
You can find and apply for apprenticeship jobs for craft and new apprenticeships just like you would for a job. Make sure you note and apply before the closing date!
Where do I find out more?
For more information on apprenticeships, visit apprenticeship.ie.
The website is packed with information about becoming an apprentice. You will find a full list of all available apprenticeships as well as the contact details for your local ETB. The website also lists employers that are currently looking to take on apprenticeships. You can also call the dedicated helpline for free on 1800 794 487. Open 12pm-6pm Monday-Friday.
We hope you’ve learned something more about apprenticeships and the great opportunities they can offer to all kinds of people, whether they’re just finishing school or are looking for a change of pace.
If you have a query for one of our advisers or are struggling with your debts, you can call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, WhatsApp 086 035 3141 or find the contact details for your local office.