A guide to apprenticeships in Ireland

Apprenticeships offer an opportunity to gain practical experience, earn while learning and begin developing your career.

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Apprenticeships can provide a solid foundation for someone starting their career or looking to gain a new skill. They are a way to gain knowledge and valuable skills in a variety of industries. Some common apprenticeship opportunities in Ireland include engineering, construction, and public administration.

According to the Higher Education Authority (HEA), over 100,000 apprentices have undergone training since the 1970s. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) reports that apprenticeships in Ireland have an excellent success rate, with over 80% of apprentices from 2014 in work or education following their training.

Apprenticeships in Ireland are also due to increase significantly by 2025. Despite their high success rate, apprenticeships are often misunderstood. This blog post will shed light on everything you need to know about apprenticeships in Ireland, including how to find the right one for you.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a training programme that combines hands-on work experience with classroom-based formal education. It’s a blended programme that balances practical training and on-the-job learning. Apprentices typically work with a skilled tradesperson or professional to learn the skills of their chosen trade.

Apprenticeships last two to four years, depending on the programme. Apprentices receive on-the-job training and aim for certifications starting from level 5 on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQs).

While many assume apprenticeships are solely for school leavers and young adults, they’re open to anyone 16 and older. Some programmes target those 18 and above, but with no upper age limit, even those 25 or older can enrol.

What are the benefits of apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Earn while you learn: Apprentices are paid employees, so they can earn money while they gain new skills, which presents a fantastic learning opportunity
  • Gain hands-on experience: Apprentices learn by doing the job to gain valuable hands-on experience in their chosen trade.
  • Develop professional skills: Apprentices develop essential professional skills, such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving.
  • Increase your chances of employment: Apprenticeships are highly valued by employers, so apprentices have a good chance of finding a job after completing their training.

How to find an apprenticeship in Ireland

Ireland has a rich history of vocational training across various skills and industries. From the heart of Dublin to the coast of Galway, aspiring apprentices can find programmes in their field of interest.

Here’s how to find the best apprenticeships in Ireland:

Researching your apprenticeship

Before applying for an apprenticeship, it is important to take the time to research your options. Apprenticeships can last two to four years, which is a significant time commitment.

The first step is to identify the industries that interest you the most. Whether you are interested in a craft trade like motor mechanics and engineering or more drawn to sectors like IT and finance, it is essential to research the different career paths available.

There are many resources available online to help you with your research. You can visit the websites of government agencies and industry organisations, read articles and blog posts, and watch videos. You can also talk to people working in the industries that interest you.

Visit official websites and job boards

The official apprenticeships Ireland website is a great resource for learning more about apprenticeships in Ireland. It includes general information about getting started with an apprenticeship and resources for educators and employers. You can also find a directory of apprenticeship programs on the website.

In the website’s events section, you can also find in-person opportunities for accounting apprenticeships and other kinds of apprenticeships.

Recruit Ireland has decades of experience helping individuals land the right apprenticeship roles. You can check out our apprenticeships jobs board to search for apprenticeship jobs in Ireland. Simply enter the keyword “apprenticeship” in the search bar. You can also filter your search by location, industry, and other criteria.

Each apprenticeship job listed on Recruit Ireland will include the role details, the training length, and the apprenticeship rates.

Talk to a career advisor

If you need help choosing the right career path, a conversation with a career advisor can be invaluable. For recent school leavers, your school’s career advisor or guidance counsellor can provide expert information about your options and help guide you towards a programme that matches your goals and aspirations. 

For those who have moved beyond school, visit your local Education and Training Board (ETB). ETBs are government agencies that provide education and training services to people of all ages. They have branches in major towns and cities across Ireland, including Limerick and Cork City. ETBs can also provide expert advice and support throughout your apprenticeship, including help with your application, preparing for your apprenticeship interview, accessing financial assistance, and getting in touch with other apprentices.

Once you have found an apprenticeship, you will need to apply. The application process will vary depending on the apprenticeship, but it typically involves submitting an application form, attending an interview, and passing a skills assessment.

Types of apprenticeships in Ireland

There are a variety of apprenticeships available in Ireland, covering a wide range of industries. However, they can generally be classified into two types:

Craft apprenticeships

Craft Apprenticeships teach apprentices the skills to work in specific trades such as engineering, motor mechanics, electrical, and construction. These four-year programmes blend practical training with academic learning at Technological Universities.

Best craft apprenticeships in Ireland:

  • Plumbing
  • Mechanics
  • Toolmaking
  • Metal fabrication
  • Carpentry and joinery
  • Brick and stone-laying

In 2015, the apprenticeship programme was extended. It now includes a broader range of vocations under the “New Apprenticeships” category.

New apprenticeships

New apprenticeships include anything developed after 2016. There are strict criterias that need to be met to ensure every apprenticeship is:

  • Industry-led with a minimum of 50% on-the-job training
  • Alternates between the workplace and an educational institute
  • Be of substantial depth and duration, lasting for a minimum of two years
  • Apprentices are employed under a Contract of Apprenticeships. Also, they are paid a salary for the duration of the apprenticeship

The introduction of new apprenticeships expanded the kind of programme you could undertake. The new list of apprenticeships in Ireland now include:

  • Geo drillers
  • Chef de Partie
  • Laboratory technician
  • Supply chain specialist
  • Recruitment practitioner
  • Data network technician
  • Financial services specialist

If you don’t see an option that interests you, don’t worry; this isn’t an exhaustive list. Remember to check the Recruit Ireland job board for a broader list of opportunities in your area.

Apprenticeship wages in Ireland

Apprentice rates in Ireland differ based on the type of programme you’re under.

  • Craft apprenticeships developed before 2016 pay employees a wage during their on-the-job phase.
  • New apprenticeships developed after 2016 ensure employees paid for their whole training.

The exact pay scales for apprentices differ between industries. There is no universal’ apprenticeship rate’ employers need to stick to.

The table below shows the current rates offered for apprenticeship wages in Ireland.

Job title Annual Apprentice Rate Location
Apprentice Carpenter €20,000 – €30,000 Navan
Electrical Apprentice €30,000 – €36,000 Portumna
Apprentice Metal Fabricator €21,000 – €40,000 County Dublin
Automation Apprentice  €22,000 – €30,000 County Tipperary

This table is a rough guide, but each industry has its own pay structure. Remember to check the job specifications for the salary for each position you’re interested in.

Apprentices are exempt from the Irish minimum wage, therefore some programmes pay around €6.84 an hour. Therefore it is important to take your time to find the right apprenticeship and pay scale that suits you best.

How to be successful in an apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a significant step in your further education and crucial to your career growth, regardless of the age you enter the position. Below, we have outlined some key tips to help you along your journey: 

  • Commit yourself: To succeed in an apprenticeship, dedicate yourself to learning more about the career outside of work.
  • Ask for feedback: Ask your coworkers and instructors for regular feedback to facilitate your growth. 
  • Network with others: Put your best foot forward and forge connections in your industry. This includes coworkers and the other apprentices in the off-the-job classrooms.
  • Stay updated: Industries are changing rapidly, so keep updated with advancements in your profession.

Apprenticeships are a hybrid of work and learning, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have them. 

List of Best Apprenticeships in Ireland

Ireland boasts many apprenticeships in various disciplines, but some are more in demand than others.

Below is a list of the best-paying, high-demand apprenticeships in Ireland:

  • Carpentry and joinery: Employers typically expect applicants to have a H3 or H4 in ordinary-level Maths. Jobs in this sector pay well and increase every year of the apprenticeship.
  • Plumbing: An H3 or H4 in maths is expected, but plumbing is a competitive career with well-paying apprenticeships.
  • Motor mechanics: Perfect for car lovers, motor mechanics are responsible for maintaining cars to the level expected in the National Car Test.
  • Insurance: Apprentices who undertake the Earn and Learn Insurance Practicioner programme will work for an insurance company while undertaking a BA Hons in Insurance Practice.
  • Accountant Technician: This apprenticeship runs for two years with a guaranteed starting salary of €22,035. Apprentices will also study towards a Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Accounting at a local college.

Speak with a career advisor or research online before deciding which apprenticeship in Ireland to apply for.

Find the right apprenticeship for you With Recruit Ireland 

Apprenticeships in Ireland offer an incredible opportunity for individuals, no matter their age, to gain practical experience, earn while learning, and begin developing their careers. Whether you’re keen on traditional crafts or exploring new sectors, there’s an apprenticeship waiting for you. 

Here at Recruit Ireland, we are committed to helping job-seekers and young adults unlock new career opportunities by connecting them to the right apprenticeship programmes. Our platform connects talented individuals and entry-level job seekers with employers who value their skills and dedication. Check out Recruit Ireland’s apprenticeship job board to search for suitable apprenticeships near you.

As you embark on your apprenticeship journey, Recruit Ireland is always here to guide you and answer any questions. Head to the Recruit Ireland advice centre to discover the latest expert advice and tips to advance your career.


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