Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Apprenticeship Programmes

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Independent)
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643. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) will be facilitated with the next phase of their SOLAS apprenticeship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31822/22]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Under the Further Education and Training Act (2013), SOLAS has statutory responsibility for planning, funding, and co-ordinating Further Education and Training (FET) in Ireland.

My officials have referred your query to SOLAS for direct reply on this individual matter. If you do not receive a response from SOLAS within 30 days, please do come back to my office for further follow-up.

Photo of Cormac DevlinCormac Devlin (Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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644. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline the strategic plans for the new national apprenticeship office; the timeframe for each item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32091/22]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Key to the delivery of the ambition set out in the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-25 is a new organisational architecture, involving a National Apprenticeship Office (NAO) and National Apprenticeship Alliance (NAA). The Office will have responsibility for all aspects of the management, oversight, and development of the apprenticeship system and for implementing the Action Plan. Under this plan the NAO will exercise the relevant functions of SOLAS and the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

This represents a significant structural reform in the positioning and delivery of apprenticeship into the future. It will allow for responsive delivery of collaborative learning opportunities supported by industry and the further and higher education and training sector, and provide the essential basis for significant expansion of the system.

With its first Director having now been appointed, the NAO will deliver additional practical supports and information for employers and apprentices seeking to engage with apprenticeship. The staffing structure of the office and budget for 2022 have been agreed and early achievements include overseeing the introduction the new €2000 employer grant, the €2666 gender based bursary, and the establishment of the NAA.

Traffic on apprenticeship.ie has also increased as a direct result of the inclusion of apprenticeship options on the CAO website from November 2021, with over 30,000 click-throughs from the CAO site.

In tandem with these actions, the apprenticeship agenda is being promoted on an ongoing basis through Generation Apprenticeship. This is a national campaign to drive awareness of apprenticeship opportunities across a broad audience of stakeholders (radio, digital, billboard). The campaigns promote a number of key initiatives under the Generation Apprenticeship banner, targeting the employer audience regarding the Gender Bursary and Employer Grant, and targeting students, parents, and guidance counsellors regarding opportunities in apprenticeship. Award ceremonies for both the employer and apprentice of the year will take place instilling pride & confidence in apprenticeship achievements in Ireland.

The NAO Director is currently providing the leadership required to address the next stage of the NAO’s development, including finalising a work programme for 2022 and the development and implementation of solid governance and financial arrangements, aligned with the Action Plan, in consultation with SOLAS, the HEA, my Department and other key partners. A sum of €1 million has been allocated in Budget 2022 for the first year of the NAO’s operation.

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