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Apprenticeship is a programme of structured education and training which formally combines and alternates learning in the work place with learning in an education or training centre.  This dual system of on-the-job and off-the-job training prepares the participant for a specific occupation, and leads to a qualification nationally recognised under the National Framework of Qualifications at any level from Level 5 upwards. Apprentices are employed and paid under a Contract of Apprenticeship for the duration of their apprenticeship.

There are two types of apprenticeships within Ireland’s national system of apprenticeship: traditional craft apprenticeships and new, employer-led apprenticeships. 

There are 27 traditional craft apprenticeships, which are available across a range of sectors including Construction, Motor, Electrical and Engineering. Craft apprenticeships are generally comprised of seven phases, three off-the-job and four on-the-job, and take a minimum of four years to complete. They lead to the learner becoming a fully qualified craftsperson. ​

New, employer-led apprenticeships emerged following a review of apprenticeship commissioned by the Minister for Education and Skills in 2013.  They are developed and managed by industry-led consortia, working with education and training providers and other partners. The training alternates between a workplace and an education and training institute, with a  minimum of 50% of the training being undertaken on-the-job. New apprenticeship progammes are substantial in depth and duration, and prepare apprentices to work autonomously and competently in a specific occupation.  All apprenticeships developed in Ireland after 2016 follow this new model.

The technological higher education sector is very active in the delivery of the off-the-job training for both types of apprenticeships.  THEA supports apprenticeship development and implementation through the national governance structures: the National Apprenticeship Advisory Committee and the Apprenticeship Council. Further information on apprenticeship is available here.

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