Ireland currently has 27 apprenticeships. All of these are in traditional areas, largely construction-based, but including printing, aircraft maintenance and mechanics.

These apprenticeships are of very high quality, proven by continuous success in World Skills competitions. In 2015, more than 3 000 young people are expected to begin apprenticeships in these areas, an increase of over 100% compared with new apprentices in 2012.

New research from the further education and training agency, Solas, has indicated that numbers in existing apprenticeships will grow each year, reaching 5 000 new apprenticeships by 2018.

Also, shorter forms of vocational training are successful. Like apprenticeships, traineeships use a model of workplace based training and work experience but are of shorter duration, usually one year. Traineeships provide training and experience in areas such as beauty therapy, office administration or sales and marketing. Ten thousand people have completed traineeships since 2011, and another 10 000 will do so between now and 2018; these give people real alternatives to academic routes, and the chance to gain relevant skills and experience to help them start their careers.

As part of the government's action plan for jobs initiative, the Department of Education and Skills undertook a review of the apprenticeship system, to determine whether the current model should be retained, adapted or replaced. It examined the needs of both learners and industry. Arising from that review, an apprenticeship council was appointed to seek applications from new industries willing to create apprenticeships.

The council received more than 80 proposals. They came from a range of sectors where employers want to create apprenticeships and see a long-term demand for skilled employees in their sectors.

The council has reviewed the proposals and identified 25 new apprenticeships that can be given the green light. Next steps are to develop curricula and get the new apprenticeships started. These will effectively double the type of apprenticeships available in Ireland, with new ones in information technology, hospitality and financial services, all sectors with significant career opportunities in the coming years.

The first of these new apprenticeships will begin enrolling by the end of 2015, with others coming on stream next year.

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