AECI delegates recently had a very successful meeting with Minister Simon Harris in relation to SOLAS and the major backlog of courses for apprentices which has caused major problems for employers. This meeting was organised by our President Colm Walsh.  Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam was also present at the meeting.  Minister Harris has promised to see that AECI have a representative with SOLAS and will be keeping the pressure on SOLAS to release roadblocks and get apprentices back on course.
See below encouraging press release.
26 March 2021
Minister Harris and Minister Collins announce €20 million capital funding to expand apprenticeship provision across further and higher education
Funding is aimed at increasing the capacity to deliver off-the-job training in craft apprenticeship across the country
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-19-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.
Notes to the Editor
SOLAS and the HEA will each be allocated €10m in 2021 for apprenticeship capital investment. SOLAS and the HEA will determine how the funding will be allocated across apprenticeship programmes and providers. However, the immediate focus will be on expansion of capacity in the areas of electrical and plumbing.
Apprenticeship programme
Apprenticeship is a programme of structured education and training which formally combines and alternates learning in the workplace with learning in an education and training institution. An apprenticeship prepares participants for a specific occupation and leads to a qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications.
Phase 2 off-the-job training is provided by the ETBs, under the oversight of SOLAS, with Phases 4 and 6 delivered by the Technological Universities/Institutes of Technology, under the oversight of the HEA. .
As of 31 January 2021, 19,773 apprentices are in training, employed by over 7,200 employers on 60 different apprenticeship programmes.
Press Office
An Roinn Breisoideachais agus Ardoideachais, Taighde, Nuálaíochta agus Eolaíochta
Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
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