Being an apprentice - all you need to know

Ciara O’Gorman, Development Manager with South Munster Citizens Information Services, discusses types of apprenticeships out there and how to go about applying for one.
Being an apprentice - all you need to know

An apprenticeship programme provides on-the-job training. Picture stock posed by model

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is how people are trained in a craft, trade or profession. You can get training in a traditional craft apprenticeship such as plumbing or carpentry or a new apprenticeships such as accounting technician.

An apprenticeship programme provides on-the-job training with an employer along with off-the-job training in an education centre.

You can start an apprenticeship from age 16 to 18, depending on the programme. It can last 2-4 years, during which you will spend some time in off-the-job training. When you complete an apprenticeship programme, you will get a recognised qualification at Level 5 or above on the NFQ framework.

Types of apprenticeships

The main craft trades and professions are set by SOLAS, employers and unions.

Craft apprenticeships: This generally lasts four years, during which time you will spend three different periods in off-the-job training. Craft apprenticeships include carpentry, plumbing, motor mechanics and electrical apprenticeships.

Generally, the first off-the-job training phase will take place in an Education and Training Board (ETB) while the subsequent off-the-job training phases will be in a Technological University or Institute of Technology. The skills you develop will be assessed through on-the-job competence testing as well as off-the-job modular assessment and examinations and, if you complete these assessments successfully, you will be awarded an Advanced Certificate - craft (level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications).

New apprenticeships in other areas of industry: Apprenticeships introduced from 2016 on lead to an award between Levels 5-10 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Each apprenticeship programme is between 2-4 years. New apprenticeships in ICT, finance and hospitality include software development, accounting technician and commis chef.

There are a number of models of on-the-job and off-the-job training, as well as different models of delivery and different target groups (including people already in employment).

Industry-led groups work with education and training providers and other partners, to oversee the development and roll-out of new apprenticeships. You can search for apprenticeships on

Funding supports for apprenticeships

Traveller Apprenticeship Incentivisation Programme: This pilot project offers bursaries for members of the Traveller community to access apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship employer awards: Certain employers who provide apprenticeships can get an apprenticeship employers grant of €2,000 per year for each registered apprentice. They can also avail of a gender-based bursary.

Apprenticeship fees

Generally, an apprentice does not pay fees. However, apprentices pay a pro-rata registration fee (student contribution) if their off-the-job training takes place within a college such as an Institute of Technology or Technological University. The registration fee is generally based on the amount of time the apprentice spends in the college. Apprentices are not eligible for the student grant.

Apprenticeship wages and allowances

Rates of apprenticeship wages and allowances can vary depending on the type of apprenticeship and industry you have chosen:

Apprenticeships developed before 2016: While you are training on the job, your employer will pay you a recommended apprenticeship wage. The ETB pay a weekly allowance equivalent to that wage while you are training off the job. In some cases, the ETB will contribute to your travel and accommodation costs.

Apprenticeships developed in 2016 and after: Your employer will pay you for the duration of the apprenticeship. The rate of pay is agreed between you and your employer.

Annual leave: Your statutory holiday entitlements continue to accrue during the off-the-job phases, but must be taken during the on-the-job phases at times agreed with your employer.

Apprentices who have children:

Working Family Payment (WFP) is a weekly tax-free payment for employees with children. If you are an apprentice and you have at least one child you may qualify for WFP, if you meet the conditions for WFP. Contact your local CIC for more details.

Other allowances

Check with your employer or local ETB if you are entitled to any allowances such as a Tool Allowance. You should also check if you qualify for employment tax credits and reliefs.

How to qualify for an apprenticeship

To be eligible, you must be at least 16 and have a minimum of grade D in 5 subjects in the Junior Cycle or equivalent exam. However, higher educational qualifications and other requirements may be required by employers. If you don’t have these qualifications, you may still register as an apprentice with an employer if you:

Complete an approved preparatory training course followed by an assessment interview.

Are over 18 and have at least three years of relevant work experience, in which case you will also be asked to do an assessment interview.

You will be asked to pass a colour-vision test for some apprenticeships.

How to apply for an apprenticeship

You can find apprenticeship jobs for craft and new apprenticeships on Apply directly to the employer before the closing date. You can also approach an employer to ask if they will consider taking you as an apprentice. If you are interested in a craft apprenticeship, contact the Apprenticeship Section of your local ETB for details on applying.

  • For more detail, please contact South Munster Citizen Information Services: Phone lines in Cork City are monitored from 10am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. In addition, the Cork City Centre CIC in Cornmarket Street is open to the public from 10am to 12.30pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the Blackpool CIC is open to the public each morning from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Friday. Full details are available on our website.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Have you downloaded your FREE ie logo  App?

People holding phone with App

It's all about Cork!

Have you downloaded your FREE ie logo  App?

It's all about Cork!

App Store LogoGoogle Play Logo

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Contact Us Cookie Policy Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions

© Evening Echo Ltd, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. Registered in Ireland: 523713

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more