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Is an apprenticeship for you?

Find out what is involved in an apprenticeship and how to become an apprentice


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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An apprentice is a person who is studying a particular craft from someone who has been working in the field for a while. It gives the apprentice an opportunity to combine education with hands-on experience in the area that they want to work in. Common apprenticeships include construction, electrical, engineering, hospitality or cooking, mechanics, or IT.

Apprenticeship schemes in Ireland are coordinated and managed by SOLAS along with the Department of Education and Science, employers and unions.

What is involved in an apprenticeship?

The apprenticeship will involve both off-the-job training and on-the-job training at your employer's workplace.

On-the-job training

This involves working at the employer's workplace or joining them on off-site jobs. This gives you a chance to get hands-on experience with the craft you have chosen and find out what it would be like as a career.

Off-the-job training

Many apprenticeships will require you to also do some study or classroom learning in order to have all of the skills and knowledge you will need to perform the job. This will take place in a SOLAS Training Centre or in an educational college.

How long does an apprenticeship last?

An apprenticeship generally lasts for 4 years, during which time you will spend 3 different periods in off-the-job training, totaling 40 weeks in all.

Passing your apprenticeship

Each apprenticeship programme is based on specific skills and standards of that particular field. In order to pass their apprenticeship, the apprentice must meet these standards.

Once an apprentice has passed through their apprenticeship, they may then be eligible for further study on a related degree provided by ITs around the country.

View a full list of apprenticeships here.

Allowances during an apprenticeship

Participants of the majority of SOLAS training courses are eligible for different allowances. The main allowances are given for the course participants' training, travel, accommodation and meals, and childcare. Visit the SOLAS website to view the wages and training allowances across the different options.

Student contribution

Apprentices pay a reduced registration fee if their off-the-job training takes place within a Higher Education Institute (college or university). The registration fee will depend on the amount of time the apprentice spends in the college or university. Find out more here.

Criteria for becoming an apprentice:

In order to become an apprentice, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • You must be at least 16
  • You must have a minimum of five D grades in the Junior Cert - some employers require more than this
  • Your apprenticeship must be with a person/company that is registered with SOLAS as an approved employer
  • Some professions may require a colour vision test

If you can’t meet these criteria, you can still become an apprentice if you:

  • Complete an approved apprenticeship preparatory training course and assessment interview
  • Are over 16 and have worked for at least three years in a relevant industry that SOLAS approves and have completed a successful assessment interview

Assessment during apprenticeship

Your performance will be assessed throughout your apprenticeship. The assessments vary depending on the field you are in, but include written modular work and practical assessments.

What happens if you fail the assessment?

Your apprenticeship will be stopped if you fail to pass the modular assessments three times. You can appeal this decision with SOLAS however, and may attempt to pass the modular assessment a fourth and final time.

Qualification after completing and apprenticeship

On successful completion of an apprenticeship, a QQI Certification: Advanced Certificate is awarded. This is recognised internationally as the requirement for craftsperson status.

How do I apply?

You need to register with your local Intreo centre first. You will then get called for interview to see what apprenticeship course would best suit you. Availability can be limited on courses so you may not get a place on the course of your choice. 

For more information, visit apprenticeship.ie.

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Published March 7th2013
Last updated Octo­ber 18th2018
Tags work jobs apprenticeships
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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