In early 2022, the National Apprenticeship Office was created by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. Its aim is a simple one; create a nationwide platform to facilitate a talent pipeline that mutually benefits jobseekers and business owners alike.

Although almost 26,000 apprentices are currently employed by 9,000 employers, the aim is to grow those numbers even further. The target is to have over 10,000 apprentices registering each year by 2025, thus creating more opportunities for people to gain invaluable experience on-the-job and qualifications that will stand to them for life.

This is not limited to a certain sector. People of all ages and skillsets are invited to look into what apprenticeships might be the right choice for them, be it in engineering or hospitality, biopharma or property services.

You can read more about the benefits of Generation Apprenticeship below, or find out more information here.

Benefits for business owners

The Government is investing over €250m this year into Generation Apprenticeship, and a set of supports to encourage more business owners to choose apprenticeships to grow their business. Here are some of the financial incentives for business owners:

  • Financial supports for employers through the craft training allowance or a grant of €2,000 per apprentice per year
  • An additional bursary of €2,666 for employers to encourage more women into apprenticeships
  • Free mentoring training and one-to-one guidance to help micro and small businesses employ one or more apprentices

Over 2,500 employers responded to the first-ever National Apprenticeship Office Employer Survey earlier this year. The findings of the survey will provide the new National Apprenticeship Office and all apprenticeship partners with really valuable insights into what is working well and what needs to be done to take things to the next level.

Deirdre Hedigan of Ecolect Technical Services Ltd says about their involvement in apprenticeships:

“It’s been great for our business. Apprentices are the backbone, they are enthusiastic and eager to learn. It gives us the opportunity to grow our own staff and ensure they are trained to our required standards.

“A full-time college course isn’t for everyone, so Generation Apprenticeship provides a good balance of practical on the job paid learning along with college-based learning also,”

“We have had a fantastic experience with Generation Apprenticeship. They support our new apprentices from the time they are registered with them right through to qualifying.

“They give apprentices a great foundation and guide them through their apprenticeship with off-the-job training in college which provides them with a very good mix,” Deirdre adds.

More than one-third of employers surveyed have been hiring apprentices for more than 10 years. While this is a major positive for these businesses, on a broader level it also offers a level of perspective as to how effective it can be to offer apprenticeship positions.

Conor Doolan, Apprentice Development Executive for Iarnród Eireann, says, “I really welcome the new National Apprenticeship Office. It is very beneficial to have a dedicated division to support the apprentices and apprenticeships and to be able to receive information and support.

“Whether it be a call or an email, it’s a one-stop shop, an invaluable service to have. As a large apprentice employer, it’s great to see these supports in place and to know that apprenticeships are being taken seriously.

“After all, it is apprentices who provide essential skills, who will help shape the future of society.”

Benefits for jobseekers

Whether you are considering a career change, in between jobs or simply looking to upskill, an apprenticeship can be one of the most effective ways to carve out a career path. It’s one of the most practical as well, as the ability to earn while you learn makes it a lot easier for you to give it a proper go whilst still maintaining an income.

Practical skills are often best gained from first-hand experience, as in and around 50pc of apprenticeship learning happens on-the-job. Not only does it offer the opportunity to learn on the job, but also gain relevant qualifications and certifications as well that will benefit you throughout your career.

It also presents the opportunity to take your career in a direction you otherwise would not have been able to.

Conor says, “Apprenticeships are very underrated in this country but thankfully the mindset is changing, and people are starting to realise the benefits of having good, qualified personnel available. But in order to facilitate this, you need to circle them through the apprenticeship programme; highlighting training benefits to earn while you learn, communicate that it’s a third-level qualification, and offers a career path that provides people with skill sets for life.

“An apprenticeship could change your life and for many people including myself it has. Being a former apprentice myself I have seen first-hand the benefits that having a trade can have, the positive impact on your life, and how it can open up avenues and expose you to endless opportunities.

“I would strongly recommend an apprenticeship to anyone especially females who want to pursue a craft trade but are fearful of being judged. You are every bit as good as the next person so don’t let this be an obstacle, follow your dreams and be what you want to be, you only get one shot in life so make it count.”

Currently, there are a further 22 new apprenticeships in the pipeline. Some of the new apprenticeships due for launch this year span industries including:

  • Engineering
  • Farming
  • Horticulture
  • Digital Marketing and Media
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Food & Hospitality

Deirdre adds, “We would strongly encourage anyone considering an apprenticeship to pursue it. There are a huge number of courses now available and there is something there to suit everyone.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to put your creativity into action and make a talent or a passion your full-time job!”

Source: Jamie Concannon, Irish Independent. 
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