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Capital Funding Announced to Expand Apprenticeship Provision

26 March 2021 

Minister Harris and Minister Collins announce €20 million capital funding to expand apprenticeship provision across further and higher education

From Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science  Published on Last updated on 

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins TD have today (Friday) announced the roll-out of €20 million in capital funding to respond to the growing demand for apprenticeships.

The funding will allow for a significant expansion in electrical, plumbing and carpentry places, and additional COVID-related capacity in electrical, plumbing, hairdressing and pipefitting places.

Minister Harris said:

"Today’s investment of €20 million, to be provided via SOLAS and the Higher Education Authority (HEA), will fund the delivery of almost 4,000 additional craft apprentice places annually across further and higher education - helping to catch up on the lost provision in 2020, and to support the target increase of 1,450 registrations across all apprenticeships in 2021.

"This investment reaffirms the government’s strong commitment to enhancing and expanding the apprenticeship system. Access to cutting edge equipment is key to positioning apprenticeships as a valued and attractive path to sought-after qualifications. A strong pipeline of craft apprentices is also critical in sustaining the construction sector and delivering on our ambitious national infrastructure plans.

"The government will shortly consider a new Action Plan for Apprenticeships. It will set out new ways of structuring, funding and promoting apprenticeships, with a target of 10,000 new apprenticeship registrations per year by 2025. This compares with a 2019 registration figure of 6,177. We have huge ambitions in this area."

Minister Collins said:

"As with other parts of our education and training system, the apprenticeship system experienced significant disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By supporting additional apprenticeship places, the investment announced today will go some way towards mitigating the impacts of the pandemic, including requirements for smaller class sizes due to social distancing, and will also facilitate expansion for the longer term.

"The forthcoming Action Plan will set out to place apprenticeships at the centre of the education and training system, increase the attractiveness of the programme to employers and learners of all ages, and ensure that the apprentice population is reflective of the general workforce in respect of diversity as well."

The expansion of the national apprenticeship system has been a key government priority since 2016.

Craft apprenticeship is currently being delivered using blended learning, due to the extended Level 5 restrictions; however, a phased return to onsite training has begun in recent weeks.

The €20m will be allocated by SOLAS and the HEA across Education and Training Boards (ETBs), Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities.