An apprenticeship is an exciting and proven way for employers to develop talent for their company and industry. Apprenticeships are designed by industry-led groups, supporting growth and competitiveness.

Apprentices earn while they learn and build valuable work-ready skills in a chosen occupation. Apprenticeships open up exciting and rewarding careers, with learning grounded in the practical experience of undertaking a real job.

Apprenticeship has long been an accelerator for individual and corporate development in Ireland. Generation Apprenticeship is a major expansion project to more than double the number of learners of all ages and backgrounds taking the apprenticeship route. See Action Plan 2016-2020. This promises to be a huge source of inspiration in opening apprenticeship into a full range of twenty-first-century industries and skillsets.

Helping more people discover and develop their talents through training is at the heart of the national apprenticeship system.

The key features of apprenticeships in Ireland are:

  • Industry-led  by consortia of industry and education partners
  • Lead to an award at Levels 5 to 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
  • Between 2-4 years in duration
  • Minimum 50% on-the-job learning
  • Flexible delivery – online, blended, off-the-job learning in increments/blocks
  • Apprentices are employed under a formal contract of apprenticeship
  • The employer pays the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is defined as a programme of structured education and training which formally combines and alternates learning in the workplace with learning in an education or training centre. It is a dual system, a blended combination of on-the-job employer-based training and off-the-job training.

The national apprenticeship system is governed by legislation, principally the 1967 Industrial Training Act. The legislation sets out the overall structure of the national system and the protections for as well as the responsibilities of apprentices, employers, and education and training providers.

Apprenticeship is overseen by a national Apprenticeship Council. The further education and training authority SOLAS is the lead agency responsible for apprenticeship on behalf of Government, working in close partnership with the Higher Education Authority, Quality and Qualifications Ireland, industry and education and training providers across further and higher education. SOLAS’ responsibility includes maintenance of a national register of employers approved to take on apprentices and a national register of apprentices.

The 2012 Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act also underpin apprenticeship, supporting validation and quality assurance arrangements for programmes nationally.

The national apprenticeship system is funded through the National Training Fund and from the Exchequer.

The Apprenticeship Council was launched by the Minister for Education and Skills in November 2014. The establishment of the Council was a key action in the implementation of recommendations from a 2014 Review of Apprenticeship Training in Ireland. The Council is tasked with the expansion of apprenticeship into new sectors of the economy and identifying sectors where new apprenticeships can make a real difference to both employers and employees.

The Apprenticeship Council, in accordance with the Apprenticeship Implementation Plan:

  • Develops Calls for Proposals for apprenticeships in areas outside of the existing apprenticeships
  • Examines and analyses proposals arising from the Calls for Proposals
  • Reports to the Department of Education and Skills on viable new apprenticeships – having particular regard to the sustainability of the proposals received
  • Monitors the development by industry and education and training partners of the successful proposals into new apprenticeships, including curriculum development, awarding arrangements, duration and entry-level.

In carrying out its role, the Council takes account of ongoing and future skills needs, including through data and reports produced by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit.

The Council is enterprise-led with representatives from business, trade unions, further education bodies and the Department of Education and Skills.

A National Apprenticeship Advisory Committee (NAAC) advises the Board of SOLAS on apprenticeships in place prior to 2016. The Committee includes representation of employers, trade unions, education and training providers in further and higher education via an Institutes of Technology Apprenticeship Committee (ITAC), the Department of Education and Skills,  SOLAS and the HEA.

To support its work, the NAAC establishes working groups representative of the main stakeholders to develop guidelines on curricula, and a small group of experts, also representing the stakeholders’ reviews and develops apprenticeship curricula in accordance with the guidelines. The Committee also provides advice on the designation of new occupations in apprenticeship training, drawing on scoping studies.

Many apprenticeships are available in the following disciplines

  • Auctioneering
  • Biopharmachem
  • Construction
  • Electrical
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Hospitality and Food
  • ICT
  • Motor
  • Logistics
  • Sales
  • Hair

Source: apprenticeship.ie

How to sharpen your study skills

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The Irish Times newspaper wrote an article back in September 2004 entitled ‘How to Sharpen Your Study Skills’, that is detailed below and is still relevant today. The CAO Application Process is now closed for a few months, so it is time to knuckle down, get stuck in and make the most of the last four months in Secondary School as you prepare for June 2020.

Article start – :

Your memory is going to be your friend. Good study techniques are the key to exam success. Plan now for the summer and you will achieve better learning in less time. Here’s how!

People who study well are often accused of being swats, grafters, nerds or workaholics. The reality is that good study techniques lead to better learning in less time. If you’re in an exam year, do yourself a favour. Adopt effective study habits and save yourself hours of frustration, wasted time and panic.

The first thing you need to do is change your attitude to the exam. It’s not a colossal test of everything you’ve ever learned. You don’t have to memorise every last line of every textbook in order to succeed. Think of the Leaving as an Olympic event. If you are competing in the 100 metre sprint, you don’t train for the marathon. Find out what your event is about and practice exactly that.

Your best friends are your books of past exam papers. Buy these early in the year and make sure they are dog-eared by June. If you regularly test yourself with questions from past exams, you are training correctly for your event.

Charles Garavan has spent years studying effective memory techniques. He started out as an average student himself. He admits to an undistinguished career at second and third level – barely scraping through exams despite putting in the effort. He decided to take on the Institute of Taxation examinations at around the same time that he started to study memory techniques. He came away with the highest marks in the country and an award for outstanding achievement.

“I learned that my approach to study was all wrong,” says Garavan, who runs an training programme for students called the Memory Academy. “I was reading material over and over, trying to get it stuck in my head. It was a frustrating and ineffective technique, and when you look at how the brain works, it simply doesn’t make sense to try and learn that way.”

Anyone with a mobile phone will admit that they don’t remember phone numbers like they used to. Why? Because the brain knows that the information is available in your phone. Every time you go to make a call you look up the number. You have trained your brain not to retain this information. If you looked at the number once and then tried to write it down, however, you would quickly tell your brain that this is information that must be kept. Effective study works on the same principle, says Garavan.

“If you are not consistently testing your learning as you go, your brain will not save it,” says Garavan. “We receive so many messages from our senses and environment every day that our brains learn to discard any information that it does not regard as important. You tell your brain what’s important by testing the knowledge as you go.”

So how does this method translate in a study setting? Rory Mulvey, director of Students Enrichment Services, describes the method.

“Before you begin studying a topic, quickly test yourself. Jot down roughly on a piece of paper everything you know about the subject, no matter how little. Spend about three minutes on this exercise and then open the book. Quickly read through the relevant section, taking brief notes. If you come across an important diagram, close the book and practise it quickly, then open the book and correct your attempt. When you have worked like this for about 20 minutes, close the book and notes.

Now comes the important part. Quickly test your knowledge by jotting down all you now know. This can be done in two minutes – don’t write sentences, just key words. Then check your notes to see how you did.”

This method works for two reasons. Because you call on your brain to retrieve the information before and after the session, your brain learns that this is information it needs to store. The act of testing yourself before and after gives you a clear idea of where the gaps in your knowledge are. That way you don’t waste time reading over information that you already know. By the end of the session, you have a clear idea of what you have learned and what you still need to learn. This sense of progress and awareness of work to be done is the essence of effective study.

This whole exercise should take about 25 minutes. By the end you are ready to move onto something else, knowing that you have made the most of this session.

However, 25 minutes can easily be wasted tidying the desk, responding to text messages, nipping down for a bite to eat – by the end of the session you’ve achieved nothing and you feel a sense of dread because the end of your study session is nowhere in sight. Sound familiar? Once you get into the habit of studying in the way described, three or four 25-minute sessions per night can yield great results. That’s less than two hours. You could easily spend three or four hours at your desk daydreaming, procrastinating, worrying and fiddling. It’s no fun so what’s the point? The way to get the best from the method is to plan each session in detail. It’s not enough to say “In this session I will study physics”. You need a clear goal such as “In this study session I will learn about the Doppler effect”. Write what you know, open the book, read the chapter, taking notes and testing yourself on diagrams as you go, close the book and notes and test yourself by writing down keywords. Follow by attempting a past exam question on the Doppler effect in the next session.

Rory Mulvey recommends preparing a weekly timetable every Sunday. Map out your study sessions in 25-minute blocks with five-minute breaks in between. Timetable breaks for TV programmes, phone calls, taking a walk etc. Be specific about what you want to achieve in each 25-minute block. Even if you don’t stick religiously to the plan, the weekly act of making the timetable helps you to focus on your goals.

If you follow these guidelines, test yourself regularly and get familiar with the exam papers from day one, the Leaving Cert/Junior Cert cannot throw you a curve ball. You’ve been examining your progress for months and the exam will just be another test of what your brain can do. And just in case you think you’re not bright enough, remember that if you can commit anything to memory, even a phone number, your memory is working and you can make it work for you.

memory hacks

(January 2020)

Andrea Leyden writes…We have scoured our brains and the internet for the best study hacks to help your brain remember information. Memory is a muscle. Get it in shape. This well help you to remember quicker and more easily. This will help you in your exams and in your life.

1. Walk Before An Exam

It’s been proven that exercise can boost your memory and brain power. Research conducted by Dr. Chuck Hillman of the University of Illinois provides evidence that about 20 minutes exercise before an exam can improve performance.

2. Speak Out Loud Instead of Simply Reading

Although this may make you look a little crazy, give it a go! You will be surprised how much more you can remember when you’ve said it out loud.

3. Reward Yourself With A Treat

There are many ways to integrate a reward system into your habits so you learn how to study for exams more efficiently.

4. Teach What You Have Learned

The best way to test if you really understand something is to try to teach it to someone else.

5. Create Mental Associations

The ability to make connections is not only an easier way to remember information, but it’s the fuel of creativity and intelligence. Steve Jobs famously said “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something”. Mind Maps are an easy way to connect ideas by creating a visual overview of different connections.

6. Draw Diagrams

Drawing diagrams will help you to visualise information which would be hard to describe. This creates a visual memory in your mind which can be recalled in an exam.

7. Times New Roman is the Fastest Font to Read

Simply put – there’s a reason why Times New Roman is the default font on most applications!

8. Use Apps to Block Distracting Sites

The Self Control apps helps you to avoid distractions by blocking websites for a certain amount of time. Discover more student apps to make student life easier.

9. Watch a Documentary on the Topic

Documentaries are an entertaining way of compacting an entire story into a short timeframe. This will help you remember key details from a story plus you may even get extra credit for mentioning that you took the initiative and watched a film about the topic!

10. Search Google Like a Pro

Save time when researching sources online by mastering the biggest search engine in the world; Google. Follow Google tips to find what you need at your fingertips.

11. Create Flashcards for Quick Memory Buzz

Quickly test your knowledge of key concepts, definitions, quotes and formulas with the use of flashcards.

12. Take Regular Study Breaks

When your brain is working, you need to take regular study breaks to help your brain absorb more information but also to keep you motivated and focused when you are working. Take a short break after 45-50 minutes study as your focus and concentration will become impaired after this period, anything new after 1 hour 30 minutes does not get assimilated.

13. Listen to the Correct Type of Music

We looked into the area of how the correct types of music can lead to more productive studying by elevating your mood. Have you made your Mozart Spotify playlist yet?

14. Make Your Study Space Portable

We may be creatures of habit with favourite seats in the library, but information retention actually improves when you vary the places where you study.

15. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practicing sample answers to past exam questions can help train your brain to retrieve information. Create realistic, exam-like conditions and test your understanding.

16. Don’t Stay Up All Night Before an Exam

Make sure to get adequate rest the nights leading up to your exams. When you sleep, your brain assimilates the information you have learned when studying so getting a good night’s sleep will help you remember those pesky maths formulas you need for your exam!

17. Discover News Ways to Learn

Trying new study methods can help you find what really works for you. Use technology to your advantage by watching educational TED Talks or downloading useful dictionary apps for example.

18. Use Scents or Gum to Jog Your Memory

This may seem a bit random but spraying an unfamiliar scent while you’re studying is one of the study methods that can help jog your memory when you spray it again just before an exam. Chewing a strange kind of gum will work the same way.

19. Study in a Group

Studying in a group can help you collect new insights to enhance your learning experience.

20. Meditate

Meditation is one of the study methods that can help students stay focused when studying. Not only will meditation help you concentrate when studying but it will help reduce pre-exam stress as it improves both mental and physical health.

Source: goconqr.com

GoConqr write an interesting piece about study and study skills that I’d like to share with you. Source @ end of blog. They talk about 12 areas that I hope will benefit you as you commence study proper, whether you are in Secondary or Third Level Education.

  1. Set Study Goals
  2. Make a Study Plan
  3. Take Regular Study Breaks
  4. Embrace New Technologies
  5. Test Yourself
  6. Find a Healthy Balance
  7. Be Positive
  8. Collaborate with Study Partners
  9. Turn lessons into stories
  10. Establish a Study Routine
  11. Mark Small Challenges
  12. Consult teachers

Set Study Goals

There is lots of credible research suggesting that goal setting can be used as part of a strategy to help people successfully effect positive changes in their lives, so never underestimate the power of identifying to yourself the things you want to achieve. Just make sure to ask yourself some key questions: Am I setting realistic goals? Will I need to work harder to achieve those goals? If you’re happy with the goals you’ve set then you should aim to develop your study plan for the year ahead with your goals in mind.

Make a Study Plan

Time is precious. Nobody is more aware of this than the poor student who hasn’t studied a thing until the night before an exam. By then, of course, it’s too late. The key to breaking the cycle of cramming for tests is to think ahead and make a study plan. Not only will this help you get organised and make the most of your time, it’ll also put your mind at ease and eliminate that nasty feeling you get when you walk into an exam knowing that you’re not at all prepared.

Take Regular Study Breaks

It’s important to realize that you can’t maintain an optimum level of concentration without giving yourself some time to recover from the work you’ve put in. This can take the form of a ten-minute walk, a trip to the gym, having a chat with a friend or simply fixing yourself a hot drink. If it feels like procrastination, then rest assured that it’s not: taking regular short breaks not only help improve your focus, they can boost your productivity too.

Embrace New Technologies

Studying no longer means jotting things down with a pen on a scrap of paper. The old handwritten method still has its place of course, it’s just that now there are more options for personalising study that ever before. Whether it’s through online tools, social media, blogs, videos or mobile apps, learning has become more fluid and user-centred.

Test Yourself

It’s a strange thing, but sometimes simply entering an exam environment is enough to make you forget some of the things you’ve learned. The solution is to mentally prepare for the pressure of having to remember key dates, facts, names, formulas and so on. Testing yourself with regular quizzes is a great way of doing this. And don’t worry of you don’t perform brilliantly at first – the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

Find a Healthy Balance

Take this opportunity to evaluate yourself both physically and mentally. Is your engine running on low? Instead of  complaining “I never get enough sleep” or “I’m eating too much convenience food” take control and do something about it! Make the change and see how it positively affects your attitude and study routine. This should motivate you to maintain a healthy balance in the future.

Be Positive

Your attitude has a big impact on the level of study that you get done and the effectiveness of your learning process. If you keep saying that you can’t do it and won’t commit to the idea of learning, attempting to study is only likely to become more difficult. Instead, focus your mind on positive outcomes and on how you can use your own individual strengths to achieve them. When you think positively, the reward centers in your brain show greater activity, thereby making you feel less anxious and more open to new study tips.

Collaborate with Study Partners

At this stage of the school year, you should know your classmates pretty well. This is a good point in time to select a couple of study partners who you know you work well with and are motivated to achieve good grades also. Don’t worry if you can’t meet up too often, you can use online tools to communicate and share study notes with one another.

Turn lessons into stories

Everybody likes to read or listen to a good story, and with good reason – not only do stories entertain us, but they also help us to understand and memorize key details too. You can apply this to your studies by weaving important details or facts into a story – the more outlandish and ridiculous you can make it, the better.

Establish a Study Routine

Your study routine is comprised of more than planning what to learn and when. One of the main concerns is your study environment. Find a place to study that is quiet and with few distractions. Alternatively, you could also try switching it up by sitting in a different place in your school library every day and seeing how this works for you.

Mark Small Challenges

When you have to face very long and dense subjects, you can set small challenges to keep your spirits high; a good way to focus on the day-to-day and find motivations while you study. According to scientific analysis, the more motivated and excited we are, the better our brain performs.

Consult teachers

Any questions you have about the exam, the best you can do is go to the Teacher / Lecturer of the subject and expose your doubts. Not only is the person best suited to solve your questions, but your initiative will be well received and you’ll show good attitude by demonstrating that you’re interested in his subject.

There really aren’t any hard and fast rules to play by when it comes to the best times for studying or how long you should work for.

Everybody is different, so the best way to establish a routine is to try different things and see what works best for you, then modify your routine for maximum learning effectiveness.

Source: goconqr.com