The Generation apprenticeship competition and campaign has been running since 2017. In December 2019, SOLAS hosted the first ever Generation apprenticeship employer of the year awards.

These awards are part of Ireland’s efforts to raise awareness of, and promote the benefits and opportunities for, employers who engage with the apprenticeship system. This is particularly important as Ireland continues its efforts to expand apprenticeship to sectors and occupations that have traditionally (prior to 2016) not been part of it.  The awards recognise the contribution made by companies to the generation of skills, the development of economic growth and to community well-being, through participation in the apprenticeship programme.

Nominations and awards

The nominations for the 2019 competition reflect the evolving nature of the apprenticeship system. Some companies were from sectors with a long history of involvement with apprenticeship (such as the Electricity Supply Board (ESB)), while others were in sectors that are relatively new to this approach (Insurance Institute). Nominations were assessed based on three elements:  employer contribution to tradition and/or innovation within their local community or region, or at national level; excellence in training and employment in the provision of training and work-based learning for apprentices; and sharing of good practice within the relevant industry. An employer may be nominated for one or both of two areas: tradition or innovation. 

Overall 50 companies employing approximately 26 000 people were nominated; of 54   nominees from small, medium and large businesses, five won awards:

  • one to the outstanding employer in the ‘micro business category’;
  • awards to two employers in the small and medium business category;
  • awards to two employers in the large business category.