Galway Advertiser, Thu, Dec 03, 2020. By Patricia Uí Fhlaithearta

The registration process for going to college for the class of 2021 has already begun. The Central Applications Office has opened registrations since November 5.

As the costs continue to rise, depending on where students decide to study, an apprenticeship may be a very viable alternative, particularly as you get paid while training. There are no registration fees or endless hours of study. An apprenticeship is, however, a programme of formal education and training. It combines learning in your place of work, with learning in an education or training centre. On successful completion of seven phases of training, apprentices receive a National Craft Certificate which is a recognised qualification all over the world, providing your employer is SOLAS approved

Up until recently, most of these were focused in the construction, manufacturing and motor industries, including such trades as carpentry, bricklaying, painting and decorating, plumbing, electrical, and motor mechanics. These are often referred to as the traditional craft apprenticeships.

Since 2016 the range of industries covered by apprenticeships has grown significantly. You now have a choice of taking apprenticeships from industries such as computers and ICT, insurance, finance, accountancy, logistics, and hospitality. And the good news is that more apprenticeships are being developed all the time.

Apprenticeships are open to people of all ages and from all educational and employment backgrounds. Entry requirements may differ. For some apprenticeships you need only have a Junior Cert qualification and you can start once you are 16. According to statistics released by SOLAS, the majority of apprentices in 2018 were aged between 20 and 25 years.

You can apply for an apprenticeship if you are currently employed, unemployed, or coming from an educational setting, ie, school, further education, or higher education.

Apprenticeship training suits people who like hands-on learning. Picking up technical and/or practical skills at the coalface is a much more motivating experience for some people than sitting in a lecture hall and reading from a textbook. If you prefer learning-by-doing, an apprenticeship might be right up your alley.

Apprentices experience variety in their training as they are regularly involved in new projects and activities. The alternation between employment and the classroom also keeps interest and motivations levels up.

If you have a keen interest for your chosen industry or craft, and you have the maturity and discipline to balance both employment and study, you may well be suited to apprenticeship training.

Steps to securing an apprenticeship


  • Start by doing some research and make sure you fully understand what’s involved in an apprenticeship.
  • Spend time thinking about what career area/sector you would like to work in, and narrow down your options.
  • Check out the type of work being done in the apprenticeship areas of interest to you.
  • Find out the entry requirements

Some new apprenticeships require a Leaving Cert. Many of the apprenticeships in the construction sector require applicants to pass a colour blindness test. For several apprenticeships programmes a good standard of maths is also a requirement. Before signing up for an apprenticeship, it is important to find out if it is SOLAS approved. Without a SOLAS approval you will not be eligible for SOLAS financial support, and you will not receive a QQI award on successful completion. Without a QQI award your qualification will not be valid outside Ireland. Check with your employer to find out if the apprenticeship is SOLAS approved. If you are still unsure, contact SOLAS or your local Education and Training Board (ETB) office for clarity.

Pre-apprenticeship courses

A pre-apprenticeship course is a post Leaving Cert course aimed at students who wish to go on to pursue an apprenticeship. They are a good option as they prepare future apprentices by equipping them with skills and work experience providing a foundation to build an apprenticeship on. Pre-apprenticeship courses give candidates a year to sample the work before undertaking an apprenticeship.

As well as obtaining a traditional craft qualification there are many other apprenticeships now available in areas including logistics, accounting, finance and insurance, engineering, and software development.

Further information can be obtained by checking out and your local ETB office.