What does the new ‘Apprenticeship Action Plan’ mean for you?
The Department for Further and Higher Education launched the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 this April, making a welcome commitment to expand apprenticeship provision with a €20 million funding boost.
The renewed increase in focus on apprenticeship within the education sector, continues to strengthen the pathway for both the employer and learner. Apprenticeships are fast becoming an obvious choice for employers who are seeking to recruit talent into targeted areas of their business.
The plan establishes an ambitious growth target of 10,000 new apprenticeship registrations per year by 2025. To help achieve this, a new employer-based grant is set to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2022 marking a single apprenticeship system underpinned by a clear governance framework with direct stakeholder input.
This will build on incentives introduced as part of the July 2020 stimulus package in response to Covid-19, and should go a long way in supporting employers to grow their finance teams through recruiting apprentices. The role of apprenticeships in job creation is now vital as the economy reopens.
A further commitment by the public sector to create real career opportunities through apprenticeships in government departments, county councils, and various state agencies, is also outlined as part of the action plan. The Department of Justice, the Department of Transport, Cork City Council, as well as the National Gallery of Ireland, have already come on board as employer partners for the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship, recruiting a number of apprentices over past intakes.
The plan does not stop there however, with a commitment to diversity to be actioned both in the type of apprenticeship programmes on offer and learner being attracted. Achieving greater gender balance will form a key part of this, as despite a 40-fold increase in women apprentices being registered with the state agency SOLAS since 2015, women still only account for 5.2% of all apprenticeship intakes.
The Accounting Technician Apprenticeship alone contributes to 20% of all women apprentices registered with SOLAS, making it the apprenticeship programme of choice for women across the board. Greater transparency at Leaving Certificate level will afford students the opportunity to be presented with apprenticeship as a viable study option, and will build on the progress made in recruiting women to a range of programmes. This will ensure that the success Accounting Technicians Ireland has in consistently attracting women to our programme, will become the sector norm and not an outlier.
Apprenticeship as an industry-driven system, provides a route for employers to shape the experiences and qualifications required of their industry. In order for employers of varying scales and sectors to be able to engage with apprenticeship, the initiatives set out in the Government’s action plan should make it easier for all employers to engage with apprenticeship. This in turn, will support the learner looking to advance their career through a dynamic and viable pathway which facilitates on-the-job learning whilst retaining a source of income.