When it comes to choosing a career path, the route that traditionally comes to mind is full time study in college or university. While many will take this route to their chosen career, it might not be for everyone.
So is there another way of getting a qualification that will help you find employment in your chosen career?
Apprenticeship has become a respected alternative to full time college or university courses. An apprenticeship provides an opportunity to get a recognised qualification while at the same time gaining on-the-job experience relevant to your chosen career and earning a salary while training.
Traditionally the path to skilled occupations in sectors including construction, engineering, motor and electrical, an expansion of apprenticeship has seen the range of apprenticeship options extend into areas such as Insurance Practice, International Financial Services, Hospitality, Accounting, Electrical Engineering, and Polymer Processing.
There are currently 36 apprenticeship programmes available and by 2020 Ireland will have 78+ apprenticeships on offer, spanning the full range of industry sectors and leading to awards from certificate to PhD level.
How do you become an apprentice?
There are some minimum educational qualifications necessary to become an apprentice. You must be at least 16 years of age and have achieved a minimum 5 D grades in the Junior Certificate examination or equivalent, or successfully complete an approved Pre-Apprenticeship course.
However, in many instances employers specify higher educational qualifications. For some apprenticeships passing a colour-vision test is a mandatory requirement.
Further information on individual apprenticeships, including eligibility criteria is available online at www.apprenticeship.ie.
To start an apprenticeship you must obtain employment as an apprentice by an employer who is approved by SOLAS to train apprentices.
You may have a relative, neighbour or friend or you may know of a company operating in the sector of interest to you that might consider recruiting you as an apprentice.
Apprenticeships are also often advertised on jobs websites such as www.apprentices.ie, www.indeed.ie and www.irishjobs.ie and on social media channels including @apprenticesIrl and facebook.com/apprenticeshipireland.
If you want to know more about becoming an apprentice you should contact your local ETB.
Key Features of an Apprenticeship
Apprenticeships in Ireland are:
• Industry-led by consortia of industry and education partners
• Lead to an award at levels five to ten on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
• Between two-four 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*
*For apprenticeships in place prior to 2016 the State pays a training allowance to apprentices during off-the-job training phases