Written answers

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Education and Training Boards

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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93. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will be eligible to sit exams with the ETB in Letterkenny, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48470/21]

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick County, Fianna Fail)
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Craft apprenticeships account for 25 of the 62 existing available apprenticeship programmes. They comprise of a standard seven phase programme of alternating on-the-job and off-the-job phases. The off-the-job training for these programmes is delivered in ETB Training Centres, Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities.

Phase 2 electrical apprenticeship provision is delivered across all 16 ETBs. Phase 2 apprentices commence off-the-job training throughout the year with apprentices called to the next available training place, regardless as to the home location of the apprentice. Whilst every effort is made to eliminate unnecessary travel, unfortunately for some apprentices it is impossible to avoid having to attend training facilities that are not convenient to their locality. All apprentices are advised at their mandatory induction briefings of the training process.

Given the practical nature of off-the-job training for craft apprentices, the shutdown of on-site learning activity in 2020 and 2021 had a significant impact on the ability of craft apprentices to progress through their course. At the end of August 2021, there were 3,000 electrical apprentices waiting for access to phase 2 off-the-job training.

In addition to the general activity surrounding a return to on-site learning across the further and higher education sector a number of specific actions were put in place to support apprentices progress their off-the-job training in a timely manner.

Specific actions relating to the provision of Phase 2 off-the-job training are as follows:-

- Craft apprentice off-the-job training was prioritised for a return to on-site learning across further and higher education institutions as COVID restrictions allowed.

- €20m in capital funding has been provided to increase training capacity in the system with SOLAS and HEA allocating this to ETBs and HEIs. This has facilitated an additional 4,000 craft apprenticeship places, assisting significantly with the immediate backlog issues but also more broadly increase training capacity in the apprenticeship system as the sector caters for higher demand.

- A three-step plan to tackle the backlog in craft apprenticeship off-the-job training over the coming period by SOLAS and further and higher education providers is in delivery. Step 1 of the plan includes an increase in the number of training workshops available across further and higher education from September 2021 onwards. Steps 2 and 3 involve tailored emergency approaches to accelerate the throughput of apprentices at Phases 2 and 6 for a designated period of time.

The additional investment in supports, as well as training providers re-commencing in September at full capacity will mean that by the end of December 2021 over one third of the phase 2 apprentices will have returned to training. The waiting list for Phase 2 apprentices is expected to be completely cleared by the end of 2022. It is not possible at this point to provide information on scheduling dates for individual apprentices as work is ongoing to maximise the level of provision across the country.

A public update issued on www.apprenticeship.ie on 23rd September which outlined the comprehensive programme of work underway and to ensure that information is available to apprentices, employers and prospective apprentices. SOLAS will release further updates as the work to ensure that apprentices can complete their apprenticeships in a timely manner progresses. The apprentice in question should also maintain contact with their Authorised Officer.


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