An apprenticeship is described as providing an individual with “The “Professional Ability to Act” by equipping the individual with the ability, knowledge and skill to work in an ever changing labour environment (2019, Apprenticeship Toolbox).   

The two stage process to the apprenticeship ensures that this “Professional Ability to Act “is based on real work life practices and this is backed up by the theory behind this practice.  These stages are referred to as on the job training or company training; this time is spent working and learning with your employer, the second stage is referred to as off the job training which is completed in Training Centers or Institute of Technologies.  Within these stages are phases of learning, the duration of each phase depends on the apprenticeship being completed. Most apprenticeships take 4 years to complete while others can now be completed within 2 years. During the duration of the apprenticeship the apprentice has the opportunity to earn as they learn.

In addition to the traditional apprenticeships we are lucky to have in Ireland new sectors offering apprenticeships.  Some apprenticeships that are currently popular include, the financial services sector, the insurance and accountancy sector, auctioneering, the hotel industry (duty manager remains popular here), logistics, the computer science industry, engineering and pharma sectors to name just a few.  Both the private and public sectors have apprenticeship programs in place. Some apprenticeships offer opportunities to progress onto degree programs or higher level apprenticeship qualifications.

I am glad that this year students are showing a genuine interest in following the apprenticeship route. Many students and indeed the media often refer to an apprenticeship as a back -up plan in case the college place doesn’t come through.  Due to the opportunities offered through an apprenticeship they should not be seen as a backup plan but the plan. An apprenticeship should be pursued if this is what the student really wants to do and is based on informed decision. So some areas to be taken in to account when considering an apprenticeship;


  • Prior knowledge of area of interest.
  • Prior experience of area (we often suggest offering oneself for free work experience to gain this valuable experience and to prove oneself worthy of perspective employers investment in you).
  • Is the perspective employer registered to provide such an apprenticeship? The employer must be approved by SOLAS in order to register an apprentice.
  • Physical ability to do work particularly in the more physically demanding apprenticeships.
  • Specific requirements or suggested experience pertinent to securing the apprenticeship.
  • Availability and location of apprenticeship of interest including location of the Off the Job Training stage.  
  • Opportunity for employment after completion with said company or within sector of interest.
  • Opportunity for progression to college or climbing the apprenticeship qualification ladder if desired.
  • Reflection of genuine level of interest in this apprenticeship.
  • Liberate yourself from what your friends are doing; (do it for you).
  • Be proactive and seek out apprenticeship opportunities ; review and register with
  • Preparation of Curriculum Vitae, application forms and practice of any tests pertinent to the specific apprenticeship recruitment process. This is important due to the competitive nature of the apprenticeship recruitment.

Students must have the motivation to work hard during their apprenticeship. An apprenticeship  should not be seen as an easy option. So if you feel that an apprenticeship is the right choice for you don’t hesitate to pursue it as a route into your desired career path.  You will not only gain valuable work skills and the ‘Professional Ability to Act” but also life skills and a whole new network of colleagues, peers  and friends that will be part of your life journey.