Modern apprentice careers on the rise – Irish Examiner

Posted: January 6, 2020 at 10:46 am


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Irelands new apprentices are not just heading to building sites, but to well-paid jobs in sectors such as biopharma, finance, auctioneering, ICT, and logistics.

Apprenticeship is fast becoming a new route to a wide variety of exciting, well-paid jobs for those who want to get into the workforce quickly and still want to build a solid foundation for a long career.

Traditionally, Ireland has associated apprenticeships with the construction or engineering trades, with a bias towards male participation. The man in a hard hat, hi-vis jacket, and a white van would be the picture that many would associate with an apprenticeship.

Unfortunately, while valuing the contribution that tradesmen and women make to the economy, many would generally have considered that the apprentice route was for those who either didnt want or were unable tofollow the CAO route into college after their Leaving Certificate. However, they would be wrong in making such an assumption.

Thankfully this mindset is changing, and the evolution of changes the apprenticeship area opens a vista of opportunities for school-leavers and others to embark on rewarding, well-paid careers in a range of occupations and business areas.

Since 2015, government policy driven by the National Apprenticeship Council has opened the apprenticeship area to a broader range of opportunities than ever before.

While Ireland still lags well behind Germany commonly held as the exemplar that other countries should aspire to, with over 320 recognised apprenticeships registering 500,000 new apprentices every year apprenticeship is growing and set to grow even more.

If one looks at the National Apprenticeship website, alongside engineering and construction, you will see apprenticeships in biopharma, finance, auctioneering, ICT, logistics, sales, and many others.

The new apprenticeships in these areas echo many of the features of their long-established counterparts in the craft areas, intermixing periods of on-the-job training and skills acquisition with time spent in education and training facilities studying and gaining the necessary supporting skills and knowledge for their careers.

Unlike their traditional counterparts, these new initiatives can vary in length from two to four years in duration, and lead to an aninternationally-recognised qualification on the national framework of qualifications at levels from level 5 to level 8. Level 8 is equivalent to an honours degree.

Cork Education and Training Board (CETB), as the statutory body charged with further education and training delivery in the Cork area, is leading the way with the introduction of new apprenticeships. Already, apprenticeships for accountancy technicians, commis chefs, auctioneering and property services, cyber-security and others have been added to our extensive offerings in the craft areas.

While some employers have initially been cautious about moving into this area, the feedback has been extremely positive.

If apprenticeship in Ireland is to model or resemble the European experience, one of the biggest challenges to be overcome is for school-leavers and their parents to gain acceptance of its value. The perception that the CAO college route is the only means to secure well-paid employment is a myth but nevertheless, it is one that is widely held.

If Irelands economy and workforce is going to continue to grow and prosper, apprenticeships need to become a central feature of the education and training landscape.

John Fitzgibbons is director of further education and training at Cork Education and Training Board

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Modern apprentice careers on the rise - Irish Examiner

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