1Target group

Q7. What is the target group of this scheme?
Young people in initial vocational education and training (15-16 year-olds)
Young adults in education and training (above 16 year-olds)
Other (please specify in the description)

Mainly young adults in education and training.


The minimum entry requirement for an apprenticeship is the junior certificate (or equivalent) and to be of 16 years of age.[1] Learners who do not meet the minimum education entry requirements may be registered as an apprentices by an employer if they have either completed a pre-apprenticeship course or if they are over 16 years and have at least 3 years approved work experience. 

[1] SI 168/1997 Labour Services Act 1987 - Apprenticeship Rules 1997 S. 3-4.

Q8. What is the age of learners?
Between 15 and 18
Between 18 and 24
Above 24

The Apprenticeship Council states: Apprenticeships are open to persons of all age groups above the statutory school leaving age. Apprenticeships are not just for young people. Work-based learning also improves adults’ job prospects by updating and upgrading their work-relevant skills.

2Overview of the scheme

Q9. Is the scheme included in the ISCED 2011 mapping?

Programme code: prog.04.03, ISCED 2001 level 453.

Q10 - Is the scheme part of the VET system?
Yes, it is the main route in the VET system
Yes, but it is considered a second-chance route
No, it is an alternative pathway outside of formal VET

It’s neither the main route into the VET system nor a “second chance”, it is one aspect of VET in Ireland. 

Q11 - When was the scheme introduced?
Long history (before 2000)
Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
New pathway (after 2012)

As mentioned above, apprenticeships have been an integral part of Ireland’s landscape for decades. Unclear for how long the current structure has existed (divided into phases, etc.)

Q12 - How did the apprenticeship scheme originate?
traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for the occupation
school-based VET track by including more work-based learning to supply skilled workforce to match labour market needs
programmes for the unemployed (active labour market measures) to facilitate integration on the labour market

As noted above, apprenticeships in Ireland have a long history rooted in medieval guild system.

The current apprenticeship model is established by the SI 168/1997 Labour Services Act and amendments and is governed by statutory regulations approved by the Oireachtas. It covers 26 designated trades, in the trade families of Construction, Engineering, Electrical, Motor and Print trades.

Q13 - What are the major sources of financing of the in-company training part of the apprenticeship scheme?
By companies hosting apprentices
By employers through sectoral funds
By the state from the education budget
By the state from the labour / social security budget
By EU funding

The employer meets the cost of on the job training for 170 of the 210 weeks of the programme, and pays the apprentice a wage during this period.

The State bears the cost of the 40 weeks of on the job training, and the cost of the apprentice's wage for this period, and is reimbursed part of this cost from the National Training Fund.

Q14 - Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?
Yes, subsidies
Yes, tax deductions
Yes, other incentives
No financial incentives

Yes, there are grants for employers offering apprenticeship places to female applicants. The review[1] also suggested introducing incentives for employers in the form of subsidies, or PRSI or tax relief, to encourage them to recruit hard to reach groups, such as persons with low skills, those who have been unemployed for prolonged periods, and those with disabilities.

Q15 - Is the scheme temporary, meaning that it is financed for a limited period of time?
Q16. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

In terms of new apprenticeship registrations, in 2012 there were a total of 1434 new registrations. This compares to 1307 in 2011[1].

ISCED 2011 puts the enrolments (absolute number) at 3273.

It is noted that the 2016 National Skills Strategy for Ireland, includes an ambitious target to support the delivery of 50,000 apprenticeship and traineeship places up to 2020[2].


[1] Source: Review of Apprenticeship Training in Ireland[1]. The data is broken down by sector.

Q17 - How many learners are enrolled in this scheme in relation to all VET students?
the main VET track (majority of VET learners - more than 60% of VET learners)
strong VET track (important share of VET learners - between 30%-60%)
minor track (small share of learners - between 10% and 30%)
very small track (less than 10%)
Apprentices are not considered as learners (they are employees)

In any case the enrolments in apprenticeships are a minor part of all vocational tracks

Q18 - How many learners are enrolled in the scheme in relation to all programmes for learners of the same age group?
the main track (majority of learners - more than 60% of all learners)
strong track (important share of all learners - between 30%-60%)
minor track (small share of learners - between 10% and 30%)
very small track (less than 10%)

The enrolment numbers for many of the schemes are not known so it is difficult to give a precise answer. Based on the numbers that are available, however, it would appear to be a minor track.

Q19 - Does the apprenticeship scheme result in a qualification?
Q20 - Which is the type of qualification obtained through the apprenticeship scheme?
Educational qualification
Occupational / sectoral qualification

Successful completion of apprenticeship training, leads to an Advanced Certificate from Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) (2). Advanced Certificates have been placed at level 6 on the NFQ (equivalent to level 5 on the EQF). The Review of Apprenticeships notes that a framework is proposed which provides the scope for an expanded range of apprenticeships operating at any level of the national framework of qualifications from Level 5 upwards. 


Q21 - Is the qualification included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)
There is no NQF

Level 6 NQF is the equivalent of Level 5 EQF. 

Q23 - Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?


Q24. What is the duration of the VET pathway? (please refer to the typical duration)
4 years

Generally, the duration of an apprenticeship is a minimum of 4 years, however the Print Media apprenticeship programme follows a minimum duration of 3 years. The Review of Apprenticeships suggests that an Apprenticeships should last no less than 2 years which is the current (pre-reform) minimum. The new 25 Apprenticeships are expected to last between 2 and 4 years in duration. 

Q25 - How is the length of stay in apprenticeships defined in the regulation?
Is defined as minimum and maximum
Is defined as minimum
Is defined as maximum
Is not defined by regulation
Q26 - Is there a distinction between the training and working period for the time spent at workplace, as per regulation?
Yes, the legal framework makes this distinction
No, the legal framework makes no distinction

The Industrial Training Act 1967 (as amended) and any Apprenticeship Rules in relation to apprenticeships require that apprentices are required to:

As noted above, an apprenticeship normally lasts four years. As discussed in more detail below, apprenticeships consist of seven phases: three off-the-job and four on-the-job. Phases 1, 3, 5 and 7 take place with the employer. Phases 2, 4 and 6 take place off-the-job. The total duration of off-the-job phases is approximately 40 weeks, of which 26 are in the Training Centre (phase 2) and two seven week periods (phases 4 and 6) in institutes of technology.

This is described in the Code of Practices for Apprenticeships.

5Alternation of work-based (in-company) training and school-based training

Q27 - Is in-company training a compulsory part of the scheme, as per regulation?

Section 10 (1) of S.I. 168/1997 states that apprentice training “shall consist of modules of training both on and off-the-job”. 

Q29 - What is the form of alternation of training between workplace (company) and school / training centre?
Every week includes both venues
One or more weeks (less than 1 month) spent at VET school followed by one or more weeks at workplace
One or more months (less than 1 year) spent at VET school followed by one or more months at workplace
A longer period (1-2 years) spent at VET school followed by a longer period spent training at workplace
Various - depends on VET school / training centre
Not specified

The seven phases of an apprenticeship are divided in the following way:

  • phase 1: delivered by the employer over 12 weeks;[1]
  • phase 2: education and training boards (formerly FAS) 20 weeks;
  • phase 3: employer 26 weeks;
  • phase 4: institutes of technology 10 or 11 weeks;
  • phase 5: employer 26 weeks;
  • phase 6: institutes of technology 10 or 11 weeks; and
  • phase 7: employer 12 weeks.

[1] Minimum duration, as mentioned above the apprenticeships usually last much longer.

6Formal relationship with the employer

Q30 - Is any contractual arrangement between the learner, company and/or education and training provider, required as per regulation?

Apprentices are considered to be part of the employed population in Ireland and pay the appropriate level of employment insurance. They sign an employment contract with the employer and therefore have the legal status (and associated rights and responsibilities) of employees. Both the apprentice and the employer sign a SOLAS apprenticeship registration form and by doing so agree to accept the Code of Practice.

One of the Recommendations of the Review of Apprenticeships proposes that legislation should define an apprentice as a person to whom an approved Contract of Apprenticeship applies. A contract template should be developed by the national authorities for this purpose. 

Q31 - Which parties enter a contractual relationship?
Learner and employer
Learner, employer and the education and training institution
Education and training institution and the employer (not the learner)
No contract is required

The Industrial Training Act of 1967[1] defines an apprentice as:

“[…] a person employed by way of apprenticeship in a designated industrial activity and includes any person to whom regulations under section 28[2] of this Act apply".


[2] S. 28: An Chomhairle [the body that preceded FAS/ SOLAS] may by regulations under this section declare that every person employed in a particular manner in a designated industrial activity by a particular employer shall be deemed to be an apprentice for the purposes of this Act.

Q32 - What is the nature of the contract?
Apprenticeships are a specific contract covered by the Labour Code
Apprenticeships are a form of employment contract
Formal agreement, not covered by the Labour Code

According to the Review:

An apprentice is employed and paid under a Contract of Apprenticeship. For most purposes, he/she is treated as an employee but with slightly less protection in terms of dismissal and pay.[1]


[1] Redundancy Payments Acts 1967; Unfair Dismissals Act 1977; National Minimum Wage Act 2000; Protection of Employment (Fixed Term Work Act) 2003.

Q33 - Where is the contract registered?
At the education and training institution
At the employment office
At the chambers
At the Ministry of education


Q34 - What is the status of the learner?
Apprentice is a specific status

As mentioned above, the apprentice is considered an employee but with some differences. The contract refers specifically to “apprenticeship”.


Q35 - Do apprentices receive a salary, allowance or compensation?
Yes, all apprentices receive a salary (taxable income)
Yes, all apprentices receive an allowance (not a form of taxable income)
Apprentices receive a reimbursement of expenses
Compensation is possible but not required
No form of compensation is foreseen by law

This varies from industry to industry and increases yearly.

The SOLAS website (referring to now disbanded FAS) and the Review have slightly different numbers but this could simply be due to the time difference (FAS cites allowances from 2007). I’ll present the wages suggested by the review as it is the latest document:

Year 1: 30-75% of fully qualified rate;

Year 2: 45-80% of fully qualified rate;

Year 3: 65-90% of fully qualified rate;

Year 4: 80-90% of fully qualified rate.

E.g. Engineering (£14.86 fully qualified rate):

Year 1: £4.40 (roughly 30%) an hour = (roughly) £176 a week;

Year 2: £6.60 (roughly 45%);

Year 3: £9.60 (roughly 65%);

Year 4: £11.90 (roughly 80%) an hour = (roughly) £476 a week.

For the whole duration of the training.
Q36 - Who pays the salary / allowance of the apprentice?

During the phases of on-the-job training, the employer pays apprentices’ wages and bears whatever other costs are incurred. During off-the-job periods, the State, through SOLAS (formerly FÁS), pays an allowance to apprentices, equivalent to their wages.  

Q37 - Is the company hosting apprentices required to provide training at the workplace?
Yes, obligation to provide training at the workplace is required in the contract
Yes, it is required by law
Yes, required by other regulations
No, not required formally

The employer must provide the apprentice with the full range of work specified in the SOLAS Workplace Assessment Book as well as provide access to the appropriate tools, etc.[1] Whether this has to take place at the workplace instead of a different, equally equipped place.

8Responsibility of employers

Q38 - What are the requirements on training companies, as per regulation?
Have to provide a mentor / tutor / trainer
Have to provide learning environment
Have to ensure learning support
Have to develop a training plan

Non per regulation, however the Code of Practice requires the following of the employer:

  • That they be willing and able to train the apprentice in the required on-the job aspects of apprenticeship and to ensure that the apprentice has access to the full range of work specified in the SOLAS Workplace Assessment Book for the on-the job phases of the apprenticeship.
  • Employers must also provide access for the apprentice to the appropriate equipment and necessary tools to facilitate the required number of assessments for the on-the-job phases of the apprenticeship.
  • Provide the apprentice with the opportunities to practice curriculum elements under supervised conditions while having regard to the apprentice’s skill level at the time the task is being undertaken.

Employ a suitably qualified and relevant craftsperson who has been approved by SOLAS to act as the workplace assessor with responsibility for training, marking assessments, recording and processing assessment checklists and on-the-job. 

Q39 - Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?

The sanctions which may be imposed by SOLAS on employers are as follows:

  • Written warning, which will remain on file for 6 months;
  • Final written warning, which will remain on file for 1 year;
  • Suspension from registering apprentices for 6 months;

Prohibition on registering apprentices for an indefinite/defined period. 

Q40 - What is the role of chambers, employers' and employees' representatives (social partners), sectoral councils (if existent), in apprenticeships, as per regulation?
Roles in designing qualifications/ curricula
Roles in final assessment of apprentices
Roles in quality assurance of work-based VET
Responsible for the regulation of the contract
No role

The review group recommended that “apprenticeships be enterprise-led, with a key role for employers in identifying occupational standards and in shaping the content of the curriculum in collaboration with education and training providers.


The Apprenticeship Council was launched in 2014. Its main functions are to advise on the design, duration, entry levels, and ongoing provision of apprenticeships. The Council is enterprise-led but educational institutions sit on the Committee.