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


Whether you have had to sit major state examinations or third level examinations, the 1st June or the 1st July mark the official start of the summer holiday period for most if not all students. Two – three months i.e. eight to twelve weeks are available to you to source employment, get ‘world of work experience’ and I guess more importantly, make some pocket money for those summer weekends or for school / college next term. With Ireland experiencing its lowest employment rate for many years, sourcing employment shouldn’t be overly difficult. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Consider the following ideas:

• Who do you, your family members, relations and / or friends know in business that have direct or indirect business contacts to decisionmakers
• Do an EYK List Everyone You Know List
• Take a walk / drive around your area of residence, your town and / or nearest city, who are the major (indeed minor employers), what do they do, where do the need help, could you help them, do they employ young people like you
• Read your local newspaper’s business pages to see who’s recruiting
• Develop a CV that sells you to prospective employers, tailoring it accordingly around their business and how you can help them, outlining your relevant talents, skills and abilities

Working during your summer holidays and between school / college breaks has so many benefits that you may not see or realize now, but in the medium to long term, you will.

Some of these benefits include:

• Enhancing your time management skills
• Reporting to a manager or supervisor on what you are doing / have done
• Developing people skills
• Developing customer care and customer service skills
• Handling cash and financial transactions
• Work experience for your CV’s of the future
• Experiencing making and saving your own money
• Making new friends

So, don’t waste this summer, get out there and get a job…

Most of us spend minimum 10 years and up to 20 years in school, whether it be in primary, secondary and / or third level education striving to achieve an education and a qualification that will secure us a job / career that we will like and that will pay us a salary to meet our desired future lifestyle.

As we begin our education, we have no idea why we are doing it, where it will lead us to, where it will take us to and what will be the outcome / reward at the end in the areas of a job / career. As we progress, we realise that the reward is to get a job, build a career, become self-sufficient and pay our way.

Some people begin to pay their way when their third level education is completed, while others start working as soon as they are legally able to i.e. @ 16 years young, whether it be in their parents / guardians family business or through someone they know.

Work experience during your academic years can be such a rewarding experience. Never mind the ‘paying your way’ mentality, which is really only a by-product; the true benefit is the opportunity for you to grow, meet all types of people, do all kinds of work tasks and get an idea of what you’re good at, what your skills / competencies are and decide on a job / career future before your academic years are complete.

In the years that you have no major examinations, force yourself to search for and secure a job at w/e’s, during mid-term breaks and of course in summertime; a job that you like, that will challenge you and that you will learn from.

Some of these jobs might not deliver all of these; however you are at the very least making some money, meeting new people and not wasting all of your precious time watching other people doing well in their lives…

For college graduates and young interns taking those first steps into the real world without any prior working experience can be a daunting task. This should not discourage you from going for the job you desire.

Everyone has to start somewhere and by providing a well presented Curriculum vitae you can show a potential employer exactly what you have to offer and why they should hire you.

Summarise Yourself

This is effectively your sales pitch to an employer. Talk about who you are and what you have to offer, since your work experience is limited make sure you emphasise your skills and educational achievements.

In terms of skills try to list any that may be relevant to the job that your are applying for. Displaying the right attitude and listing appropriate skills may be enough to convince an employer to hire you.

Any Experience Counts

Just because you have never been in previous employment doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have experience in life. If you have ever volunteered for an organisation or a charity make sure to put it in. Maybe you helped coach a children’s sports team or provided a babysitting service.

All of this counts as valid experience and just because they were on a voluntary basis does not mean to that they didn’t help you develop skills that could be used in the future. For example let’s say you helped organise a summer project, you could list leadership and project management as skills you possess.

Make sure to list all relevant experience, even things you may think are irrelevant, you would be surprised how many employers will look at those things.. If you do choose to leave the experience section blank, then try focus on your practical and interpersonal skills instead.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

This is essential. Many people who have little or no previous experience feel the need to exaggerate certain details on their curriculum vitae in order to make it more appealing. This approach will NOT work.

One of the main factors an employer will take into account when assessing a potential candidate is honesty. Always remain honest and open about your work history if any. Claiming to possess skills that you have yet to require will only cause problems for yourself down the line.

Everyone has to start somewhere and a good employer will know that and help the candidate develop their skills from the beginning.  If a candidate has claimed the ability to take on a task that they’re unable to complete to then they may quickly find themselves out of their depth.