Thursday 14 December 2017

New apprenticeships coming on-stream

Going to college

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

While opportunities for those who wish to enter traditional apprenticeships, in sectors such as construction, are improving, an era of new-style apprenticeships has also opened, offering training in areas not related to the traditional trade and craft careers. A number of new opportunities are set to be launched in the coming months, of interest both to school-leavers and to those hoping to retrain.

An apprenticeship is a programme of structured training, which combines paid workplace experience and classroom learning. On successful completion, trainees will be awarded a qualification recognised by the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), from Level 5 up to Level 10, on a par with what is awarded in universities and other third-level colleges.

One of the new apprenticeships introduced last year is run in conjunction with the Insurance Institute of Ireland, with classes offered by IT Sligo. It allows students to gain experience working, while studying for a Level 8, BA (Hons) in Insurance Practice. Trainees have the support of a mentor. These opportunities are not only for those who can easily access IT Sligo, as the classes are completed online. As students complete each year of study they will be awarded a qualification in recognition of their work. Successful completion of first year leads to a Professional Certificate in Insurance. Students who complete year two will achieve a Professional Diploma in Insurance and a degree will be awarded on completion of third year.

School-leavers will be required to achieve four O6/H7s and two H5s, including a 'pass' in English and Irish and F2/O6/H7 in maths, in the Leaving Cert, plus a minimum 140 CAO points. Information for the next programme, starting in September 2017, will be announced soon. Meanwhile, information is available at

An apprenticeship in industrial electrical engineering also started in 2016, at Limerick Institute of Technology. This two-year programme is aimed at qualified electricians. On completion, students will be awarded a Level 7, Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial Electrical Engineering.

A third new occupational apprenticeship - polymer processing technologist - has recently been approved. The Level 7 Bachelor of Science programme has been developed by the plastics industry along with Athlone IT and IT Sligo. The first apprentices are set to start in May.

More than 20 new apprenticeships are under development, and the State training authority, Solas, expects to launch opportunities in financial services, culinary skills and accountancy soon. They will be industry-led and offered in conjunction with an educational institution. Although these programmes have yet to be finalised, plans are well advanced. The international financial services apprenticeship, to be run in conjunction with the National College of Ireland, will see trainees work for two years with a financial institution, leading to qualification. For more details see

Healthcare company GSK is also recruiting this year for two of its new-style apprenticeships: pharmaceutical technician, for its plants in Dungarvan, Co Waterford and Sligo, and business supply chain apprentice, for its base in Cork. The deadline for applications is the end of March. Other useful websites are: and SOLAS's, as well as the Construction Industry Federation's

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Important dates


HEAR/DARE deadline - CAO

Apprenticeship campaign - ESB

Open Day - Griffith College

Open Day - Teagasc Mountbellew

Info Session - Roslyn Park National Learning Network


Open Day - Teagasc Kildalton


Law Taster Day - Maynooth University


Late applications (restricted) - CAO

Portfolio submission - DIT


Open Evening - DBS

Open days - Galway Community College and Galway Technical Institute

UCC parents info evening - Ormond Hotel Kilkenny


Enrolment Day - Ballsbridge College of FE

Open evening - Bray Institute of FE

Q. There are a number of closing dates for the HEAR/DARE scheme, which confuses me. What exactly do I have to have done by today?

A. It is correct that there are a number of deadlines for those who wish to apply for HEAR or DARE and these are very strict. If an applicant fails to meet these deadlines it can severely impact their application. The first was February 1 - applicants must have registered for the CAO and ticked the box to indicate they are interested in the HEAR or DARE scheme by this date.

By 5.15pm today, applicants must complete the online forms for their relevant scheme. For DARE applicants, this includes details of their disability and any supports they received in second-level school. The final deadline for DARE is April 1. Applicants must ensure that any required documentation reaches the CAO by this date.

For HEAR applicants, the online form requests information on household members and income; it may be helpful for parents to assist with this. Once the online form is completed, the system will generate a personalised list of documents which must be sent to the CAO by April 1.

Irish Independent

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