A new national apprenticeship action plan, launched today by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, aims to increase the number of apprentice registrations to 10,000 per year by 2025.
There are currently 60 apprenticeship programmes in Ireland leading to qualifications in areas such as finance, accountancy, laboratory technicians, engineering, heavy vehicle mechanics and healthcare.
The five-year action plan will also examine the potential development of new cross-border apprentice programmes and support apprentice engagement in international programmes, such as Erasmus.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said: “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.
“The overall apprentice population will grow 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.
“This plan has the potential to transform this part of our third-level system. Apprenticeship is good for the learner and the employer.”
Welcoming the publication of the action plan, Dr Sean Lyons, Dean of Faculty, Engineering and Informatics at Athlone Institute of Technology, said: “This is a pivotal step in ensuring the long-term sustainability and relevancy of apprenticeship provision in Ireland. Learning through an apprenticeship represents an opportunity for learners to experience all the benefits of third-level education while simultaneously providing them with applied skills gained through on the job experiences.
“AIT has long been a key supporter of apprenticeship programme provision, and currently delivers ‘off the job’ training for heavy goods vehicle, motor and plumbing craft apprentices, in addition to acting as the lead provider on the polymer processing apprenticeship in collaboration with our partners in IBEC.
“We look forward to engaging collaboratively with other providers and partner stakeholders in delivering on the ambitious and significant changes to the apprenticeship system. The changes represent an exciting opportunity to enhance existing provision and create a platform for the significant expansion of apprentice education across the country.”
The plan will work to ensure equity of access to ensure underrepresented groups are able to avail of apprenticeships by creating simplified routes to entry, and improved flexibility within the system.
The plan brings all apprenticeships together under one roof in a new National Apprenticeship office.
Athlone Institute of Technology is a research-led third-level institute with an applied, industry-focused offering, world-class research and development capabilities, and state-of-the-art facilities. Winner of The Sunday Times Institute of the Year 2020 and 2018, AIT is Ireland’s top-ranked institute of technology and is on track to open its doors as the country’s third technological university in September 2021. AIT tops Ireland’s official league table for research and was listed in U-Multirank’s Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research in 2018 and 2019. For information relating to the institute’s undergraduate programmes, visit www.ait.ie.