Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Apprenticeship Programmes

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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141. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address the situation in which an apprentice student (details supplied) is being delayed in progressing to the next phase due to a backlog in the processing of examinations and assessments. [23349/21]

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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COVID-19 related suspension of face to face training in Training Centres (Phase 2), Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities (Phases 4 and 6) has had a significant impact on the ability of craft apprentices to access off-the-job training. When permissible, face to face training is operating at approximately 50% normal capacity to ensure adherence to public health guidance. This has exacerbated the increasing pressure on craft apprentice off-the-job training facilities which was growing as a result of the 90% increase in apprentice population over the past 6 years, a situation which has impacted on waiting lists for electrical, plumbing and carpentry and joinery in particular.

€20M in capital expenditure has been allocated to SOLAS and the HEA to facilitate an additional 4,000 craft apprenticeship places across the system in the coming period in addition to €12M already allocated to support additional classes and teaching capacity to ameliorate COVID-19 measures. SOLAS and the HEA are working with the education and training providers to tackle waiting lists for off-the-job elements of programmes to ensure that apprentices complete their training as quickly as possible once COVID-19 restrictions allow.

In the interim, education and training providers have front-loaded remote training on theoretical aspects of apprenticeship for craft apprentices to ensure that apprentices are facilitated to continue with their programme. A phased return to face to face training has commenced for those apprentices who had been undertaking remote teaching and learning or who were close to completion of phase 2, 4 or 6 when training was suspended in January 2021.

SOLAS and further and higher education providers are providing regular updates for apprentices and employers of apprentices who are assigned to off-the-job training phases. Scheduling dates for individual apprentices are not available at the current time, with the system focused on supporting craft apprentices to complete their phases.


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