Written answers

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Apprenticeship Programmes

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
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239. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding apprenticeships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27957/20]

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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The Department, SOLAS and the education and training providers are actively working to facilitate learning and assessment for apprentices during this period of uncertainty, while maintaining the quality and integrity of the apprenticeship programme. 

Since the closure of on-site training in March, craft apprenticeship providers have moved to transform the delivery of apprenticeship assessments which has allowed craft apprentices to complete their theory based modules during the summer period.  A number of apprenticeship programmes have moved fully online or have been modified to allow for greater flexibility between on-the-job and off-the-job elements of the programmes.  Unfortunately, it has not been possible to deliver this flexibility in programme provision or assessment in the practical elements of craft apprenticeships due to the need to access workshops and equipment.

Due to the closure of ETB Training Centres, TU Dublin and the Institutes of Technology, it was not possible for SOLAS to schedule apprentices for off-the-job training in recent months.  Off-the-job training recommenced on the 1st September, however attendance on site is subject to significant restrictions in terms of safeguarding the health of apprentices and staff during the pandemic and unfortunately this has reduced overall capacity for apprenticeship training by 30% across the entire spectrum of operations.

It is not in the interests of apprentices, employers or providers to allow waiting lists for off-the-job training to increase and SOLAS is continuing to work with each of its delivery partners to schedule and devise innovative approaches to apprenticeship training.  This does, however, take time and apprentices will be notified of these changes as they are rolled out.

Apprentices should receive further updates on their training schedule and associated concerns from their local ETB Authorised Officers over the next number of weeks. They should also visit www.apprenticeship.ie for updates on apprenticeship operations aligned to the SOLAS COVID-19 response.


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