Apprenticeship is the recognised means by which people are trained to become craftspeople in Ireland.
As an apprentice, you work for an employer while at the same time learning the skills and gaining the knowledge you need to qualify as a craftsperson in your chosen trade.
The main craft trades are designated by SOLAS. These are part of the Statutory Apprenticeship system, which is organised in Ireland by SOLAS, the Department of Education and Skills, employers and unions.
Commonly known as 'learning a trade', apprenticeships have always been an attractive career path. The aim is to help the apprentice to gain the knowledge, skills and competence required to perform effectively as a craftsperson.
The apprenticeship approach is ‘earn as you learn’ through a structured and accredited approach. Candidates earn a wage during their instruction period and have the opportunity to advance through modular training over a period appropriate to the skills that must be acquired.
Apprenticeship generally comprises of Seven Phases over 4 years*. Three phases are 'off-the-job' and four are 'on-the-job'. During the off-the-job phases, apprentices attend a training centre for Phase 2, and a further two phases (Phase 4 and Phase 6) at a College of Further Education or Institute of Technology. Phases 1,3,5 and 7 are time spent on-the-job.
Apprentices are paid throughout their training both 'on-the-job' and 'off-the-job' (See Pay & Fees). Some employers will even pay accomodation costs for apprentices whilst in training.
*There are exceptions - e.g the Print Media apprenticeship is 3 years.
Apprenticeship is a great way for young people in particular to get onto the career ladder, earn money, gain meaningful experience and get a qualification up to Level 6 or beyond on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).
An apprenticeship qualification is mobile throughout the world and is recognised as such. Many Irish apprentices have competed very strongly in the World Skills Competition, winning medals for the skills they have learnt. World Skills is effectively the Olympic Games for apprentices. The most recent competition was held in Germany, where young Irish apprentices performed very well, bringing home 2 gold medals, 1 bronze medal and 7 medallions of excellence.
Apprenticeship positions are very popular and you will be competing with other applicants, so it is essential that you can impress the employer by dressing well, speaking clearly and making good eye contact. You want to project confidence and that you can communicate well. It is important that you present yourself in the best possible light right down to your CV and cover letter.
Transition Year (TY) is an ideal opportunity to gain knowledge of the trade or craft that you might have an interest in. Work experience opportunities allow students to see in a practical way how subjects such as maths or construction studies are relevant to the workplace.
SOLAS Apprenticeship applies to the following crafts:
- Agricultural Mechanics *
- Aircraft Mechanics *
- Brick and Stonelaying
- Carpentry & Joinery
- Construction Plant Fitting *
- Electrical *
- Electrical Instrumentation *
- Electronic Security Systems *
- Floor & Wall Tiling *
- Heavy Vehicle Mechanics *
- Industrial Insulation
- Instrumentation *
- Mechanical Automation and Maintenance - MAMF *
- Metal Fabrication
- Motor Mechanics*
- Painting & Decorating *
- Plumbing *
- Print Media *
- Refrigeration & Air Conditioning *
- Stonecutting & Stonemasonry
- Sheet Metalworking
- Vehicle Body Repairs *
- Wood Manufacturing and Finishing
See Apprenticeship Types for a detailed description of each apprenticeship.
Bursary for Women Apprentices
Note: Apprenticeship provides opportunities for women to broaden their career options into new and non-traditional areas of work. To promote this, a bursary is offered to employers in both the public and private sectors to encourage recruitment of female apprentices. Click here for details.
*A person wishing to become an apprentice in one of the trades marked * must pass a colour–vision test approved by SOLAS.