The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has said that for the first time in Ireland a financial incentive has been introduced for employers who take on new apprentices.
Minister Harris said that an annual payment of €2,000 will be made to any employer who takes on a new apprentice and will “make it easier so it’s not just the big multinationals who can take on apprentices but also the smaller tradesperson or craftsperson becomes a viable option or for the Irish SME”.
Speaking during a virtual public meeting held recently by TD Colm Burke and Senator Jerry Buttimer, Minister Harris said that the public sector also needs to “step up” and a target of 750 new apprentices in the public sector each year has been set.
“We want every local authority, including Cork City and Cork County, every Government department, including my own, and every public body to take on a certain number of apprentices each and every year and by July we will be dividing up that quota as to how that 750 a year will be filled,” he said.
He welcomed the new action plan on apprenticeships which he said contains “concrete things we’re going to do to bring about change” and confirmed a record year for apprenticeship registration in Ireland.
“Roughly speaking, when I became Minister we were seeing 5,000 new apprentices registered each and every year.
“We’ve set ourselves a target to get to 10,000 apprentices every year by 2025.
Last year, we saw 8,600 so we’re already making real progress by having relentless progress by opening up apprenticeship training centres and promoting apprenticeships.
Figures show that the apprenticeship population in Ireland has increased to 24,212 and that 6,955 new apprenticeships are in craft apprentices.
He said that there are 27,500 more people needed in construction and that more carpenters, more electricians and more plumbers are needed, but that the range of apprenticeships is being broadened.
“I'm not sure many people in Ireland know that you can get your degree in science as an apprentice, that you can work in the insurance sector as an apprentice.
“You can work in business as an apprentice, you can become a farm manager as an apprentice. There are 62 apprenticeship programmes in Ireland right now and there are 17 more that we intend to develop during the course of 2022,” he said.
Minister of State for Skills Niall Collins TD said that it is “really exciting to see” a record year for apprenticeship registration.
Apprenticeship is third-level education. It is an opportunity to earn and learn. It is an opportunity to get on-the-job training.
"We need many more apprentices, but this is a really important start,” he said.
Director of the new National Apprenticeship Office, Mary-Liz Trant, said that apprenticeship gives career options for people of all ages and backgrounds and is a way for employers to find and retain talent and said that soon there will be “an apprenticeship route on offer within every 21st-century industry in Ireland”.