Apprenticeship Council to be Established

apprenticeship councilA new Apprenticeship Council has been announced which will develop the area of training and on the job experience.

To coincide with the announcement, an Apprenticeship Implementation Plan has also been published, following a review of apprenticeship in Ireland, chaired by Kevin Duffy, Chairperson of the Labour Court. (View Apprenticeship Implementation plan here).

An apprenticeship is the recognised training involved in becoming a craftsman in Ireland. Some of the main craft trades include mechanics, electrical, plastering, plumbing and carpentry. These trades have been designated by SOLAS and are within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system.

Apprenticeships are demand driven educational and training programmes. Based in the classroom and the workplace, the programmes are aimed at developing the skills necessary for the needs of the labour market. Apprentices are paid an Industrial Apprentice Wage Rate, which may vary, depending on the employer and the occupation.

The first aim of the newly formed Apprenticeship Council will be to call for proposals from industries for new apprenticeships. The council with then submit the proposals to the Minister for a decision on what new apprenticeships should be introduced.

As well as this, the curricula for the current apprenticeships will be reviewed and five trades are currently being reviewed by SOLAS (Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry and Joinery, Heavy Vehicle Mechanics and Metal Fabrication). Although this process has been slow, it is hoped that reviews for the remaining trades will be faster.

The Irish labour market has seen huge changes in recent years and there has been criticism that apprenticeships have not adapted to meet the new needs and job opportunities of the current climate. However, Minister Quinn said that he is aware of the importance of the modernisation of the apprenticeship system and is hopeful there will be new apprenticeships in areas where there are new job opportunities in two years time.

Author: Fiona McBennett

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