Work-based learning (WBL) is an educational strategy that provides learners with real-life work experiences where they can apply academic and technical skills and develop their employability. Work-based learning takes place in apprenticeship, traineeships and other courses with work placement and creates a different learning paradigm.


Traineeships are developed and delivered by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) working in partnership with industry representatives and employers. A Traineeship can provide you with an opportunity to develop cutting edge skills and on-the-job knowledge, enhancing your career options and improving your employability. By enrolling in a structured training programme, you’ll combine learning in the classroom with workplace experience and could receive certification on completion.

Am I eligible?

Traineeships are free to access and open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school levers, older learners, and those in, or seeking employment.

A range of guidance services are available for those interested in participating in a Traineeship programme:

  • Second level or higher education students should contact their local Education and Training Board.
  • Adult learners can find details of their local Adult Education Guidance Service through their local Education and Training Board.
  • Jobseekers will find more information through their local Intreo Office or Local Employment Service.

For those currently unemployed, training allowance or income support may be available.

In line with the Pathways to Work 2016-2020 strategy, the Comprehensive Framework for Employment of People with Disabilities and the Action Plan on Jobless Households, eligibility to participate in a Traineeship programme includes people who are in receipt of any of the following payments:

  • Jobseekers Benefit
  • Jobseekers Payment
  • One Parent Family payment
  • Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment (JST)
  • Disability Allowance

Eligible persons must also be resident in the state and hold a valid PPSN.

Those in receipt of one of the payments above are eligible to retain their payment while participating in a traineeship. Prospective participants who fulfil these criteria are referred by Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) to an Education & Training Board (ETB) and receive a training allowance for the duration of their training.

You may also be eligible for a training allowance during the duration of the programme. Contact your local Education & Training Board (ETB) for more information.


An apprenticeship is the recognised way people are trained in a craft trade or profession. The main craft trades and professions have been designated by SOLAS and come within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system, which is organised by SOLAS in co-operation with the Department of Further and Higher, Research, Innovation and Science, employers and unions. An Apprenticeship Council is also in place.

An apprenticeship provides on-the-job training with an employer. It usually alternates between off-the-job training in an education centre and on-the-job training at your employer’s workplace. An apprenticeship generally lasts for 2 to 4 years, during which time you will spend different periods in off-the-job training.

There will be 4,000 new apprenticeship training places. The apprenticeship incentivisation scheme for employers will be extended to end of June 2021.

Craft apprenticeships:

A craft apprenticeship will generally last for 4 years, during which time you will spend 3 different periods in off-the-job training.

Generally, the first off-the-job training phase will take place in an Education and Training Board (ETB) Training Centre while the subsequent off-the-job training phases will take place in an Institute of Technology.

The skills you develop will be assessed through on-the-job competence testing as well as off-the-job modular assessment and examinations and, if you complete these assessments successfully, you will be awarded an Advanced Certificate – craft (level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications).

Craft apprenticeships include carpentry, plumbing, motor mechanics and electrical apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships and COVID-19:

Payments to apprentices:

Your employer may decide to close their business during the COVID-19 public health emergency and send you home. This is called a temporary lay-off. Employers can use the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme to continue to pay apprentices during a temporary lay-off. You can find out more about supports available to workers affected by COVID-19.

If you become unemployed you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

If you are getting an off-the-job training allowance and you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or medically required to self-isolate, you can continue to get your allowance. You must contact your ETB Training Centre so that your payment can continue.

If you are not getting an allowance and you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or medically required to self-isolate, you can apply for enhanced Illness Benefit.

Supports for employers:

The Government announced under the July Jobs Stimulus that the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme will provide a €3,000 payment to support employers to take on new apprenticeships in 2020. Employers can read more about how to apply for the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you must be at least 16 years of age and you are expected to have a minimum of grade D in 5 subjects in the Junior Certificate or equivalent exam. However, higher educational qualifications and other requirements may be required by employers.

If you don’t have these qualifications, you may still register as an apprentice with an employer if you:

  • Complete an approved preparatory training course followed by an assessment interview.
  • Are over 18 years of age and have at least 3 years of relevant work experience, in which case you will also be asked to do an assessment interview.

You will be asked to pass a colour-vision test for some apprenticeships.