An apprenticeship is a programme of education and training which combines learning in the workplace with learning in a training centre or educational college. An apprenticeship provides the opportunity for learning acquired off-the-job to be applied and further developed under supervision in the workplace. Certain educational standards are required before one may become an apprentice. Generally speaking, the minimum standard is that the individual must have had 5 ‘D’ grades in the Junior Certificate examination or equivalent. However, higher educational qualifications and other requirements may be sought by employers.
As part of the national apprenticeship system, there are formal requirements for approval of an employer's suitability to train apprentices and for registration of apprentices. SOLAS is responsible for delivering on these requirements. For apprenticeships developed before 2016, the employer pays the apprentice while s/he is being trained on-the-job. A training allowance is paid by the local ETB while the apprentice is attending the off-the-job training. For apprenticeships developed in 2016 and after, the employer pays the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship.
Apprentices pay a pro-rata registration fee if their off-the-job training takes place within a Higher Education Institute. The registration fee will generally equate to the amount of time the apprentice spends in the Higher Education Institute. The payment of the pro-rata registration fee is made by the apprentice directly to the Higher Education Institute
The minimum age for applying for an apprenticeship is 16 years of age. It is important for employers to be aware that an apprentice will be entitled to redundancy payment if they are made redundant during the course of their apprenticeship and have worked for at least 104 weeks. They will also be entitled to redundancy if they are kept on in employment after their apprenticeship has been successfully concluded. However, an apprentice will not be entitled to redundancy payment or to recourse under the Unfair Dismissals Acts if they are dismissed within 4 weeks of finishing their apprenticeship.