Apprenticeships/Traineeships: A smart route to earn and learn your way to a qualification
School-leavers who prefer to combine work experience with study as a way of gaining a qualification have an increasing number of pathways open to them, thanks to the resurgence in apprenticeships and the roll-out of traineeships.
Apprenticeships will be familiar to many and traditionally have been the route to skilled occupations in a variety of industries and sectors, such as construction, engineering, motor and electrical.
The range has now extended into areas like insurance, manufacturing, international financial services, ICT - and more recently into the areas of auctioneering and property services, logistics and laboratory quality assurance - and it is growing all the time.
In this new era, apprenticeship qualifications may go all the way to degree level, or even beyond.
Recently, the Logistics Associate Apprenticeship - leading to a Level 6 qualification - was announced. It will be delivered by the DIT School of Management, Aungier Street, with the first intake of students in September.
Another new one, a two-year Level 6 programme in auctioneering and property services - a collaboration between City of Dublin Education and Training Board and a consortium of industry representatives - has also been announced. This year, it will run in Ballsbridge College of Further Education and Cork College of Commerce. Apprentices will be on salaries of €20,000-€22,000.
Apprentices are recruited by employers and then work and study -usually either in an institute of technology or a college of further education run by a local education and training board (ETB) - over a period of up to four years.
The Insurance Institute apprenticeship is a three-year BA Hons (Insurance Practice). It has been a huge success, not least because the study end of it is done online in collaboration with IT Sligo, making it very accessible. About 100 places nationwide are being filled at the moment (earnandlearn.ie).
There are 180 positions on offer on the accounting technicians apprenticeship, in partnership with Bray Institute of Further Education, Blackrock Further Education Institute, Coláiste Íde College of Further Education, Cork College of Commerce, Monaghan Institute, Galway Technology Institute, Waterford College of Further Education and Rathmines College of Further Education. (accountingtechnician apprenticeship.ie.
In contrast to apprentices, trainees are students, not employees, and enrol on the programme, where such is available, via a local ETB.
ETBs also run PLC courses. Where a traineeship is available, they have a more extensive work placement element than PLC courses, with a substantial employer-led involvement in the design of the course content.
Traineeships vary in length from nine months to two years.
If the trainee is not in receipt of a grant, employers may support them with an allowance.
For more details, see apprenticeship.ie or check with a local ETB.