Apprenticeship (information supplied by SOLAS)



What is Apprenticeship? Apprenticeship is a method by which: a person works for an employer as an apprentice in a chosen trade and learns the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes to become a qualified craftsperson. Apprenticeship means you will undergo specific tests and assessments to ensure you achieve certain pre-set standards of skill and competence during the course of your apprenticeship.


What are its benefits for you? To help you achieve the necessary standards, the apprenticeship comprises phases of on-the-job training with your employer and off-the-job training normally in FÁS Training Centres or Educational bodies.


During the apprenticeship you will receive an apprentice wage for your on-the-job phases from your employer and while off-the-job you will receive a training allowance if appropriate.


On successful completion of the apprenticeship, you will receive a National Craft Certificate, recognised in Ireland as well as other EU and non EU countries.


How long does the Apprenticeship take? The normal duration of apprenticeship is 4 years.


What are the minimum entry requirements? In order for an employer to register you as an apprentice you must be at least 16 years old and have at least a grade D in any 5 subjects in the Junior Certificate (or equivalent grades in other approved examinations).


If you do not meet the educational requirement there are other ways in which it is possible to qualify for a job as an apprentice?


You can satisfactorily complete a preparatory training course approved by SOLAS and be successful at an assessment interview.


You may qualify if you are over 25 years of age, have had a minimum of 3 years work experience relevant to your chosen occupation and are successful at an assessment interview.


Many employers look for higher entry requirements for their particular needs and you should ask your prospective employer about these.


How do you become an Apprentice? You must obtain a job as an apprentice with a suitable employer, who can offer you an apprenticeship in your chosen occupation.


Your employer must register you with FÁS as an apprentice within two weeks of the start of your apprenticeship.


What should you do to become an Apprentice? Before seeking an apprenticeship it is wise to become informed about what is involved.


You should get to know the type of work done in the occupation in which you are interested and ask employers, qualified craftspersons or apprentices about the occupation and career opportunities available. You should also seek advice from parents or guardians and career guidance counsellors or teachers.


If you decide you want to become an apprentice you should investigate apprenticeship opportunities with local employers and look for apprentice job advertisements in local and national newspapers.


You should also consult with a career guidance teacher or school principal as some employers recruit through local schools. Also you should advise FÁS, so we can place your name on a list of those interested in apprenticeship (such lists are made available on request to employers who are seeking apprentices).


Before taking up employment as an apprentice you should satisfy yourself that the employer recognises the responsibility to register you as an apprentice with FÁS, to undertake the training and assessments, which involves on-the-job assessments, to release you to attend mandatory off-the-job training and to provide you with adequate conditions and rates of pay.


How does the Apprenticeship operate? During your apprenticeship you will be required to follow a specific course of training and undergo a series of assessments to confirm that you have reached the required standards. Apprenticeship consists of 7 phases of training both on-the-job with your employer and off-the-job in a SOLAS Training Centre or Educational College.


Phase 1, On-The-Job: is an introduction to apprenticeship, safety, the world of work and to the basic skills of the occupation.


Phases 2, 4 and 6 Off-The-Job: give the apprentice structured full-time skills training and related education and provides time for practice of the skills. The maximum duration of the off-the-job phases will generally be 40 weeks, divided approximately as follows: Phase 2 – 20 weeks, Phase 4 – 10 weeks, Phase 6 – 10 weeks


Phases 3, 5 and 7 On-The-Job: entail the practice and further development of the skills learned in the off-the-job phases.


How will you be assessed? You will be assessed at a number of stages throughout the apprenticeship.


During on-the-job phases your competence will be assessed in terms of your skill, knowledge and attitudes in performing specified tasks to the required standards under working conditions.


During off-the-job phases you will be assessed on the basis of exercises and projects together with standardised practical and theory tests.


If you fail an assessment can you repeat? Yes. Two repeat attempts will be permitted for off-the-job assessment.


For on-the-job assessment, repeats may be necessary in some circumstances, but apprentices should only attempt the assessment when their supervisors are confident of their competence.


What are the duties and responsibilities of Apprentices? Apprentices, like other employees must work for their employer with care and skill and must obey the instructions of the employer, provided they are reasonable and lawful. They must be diligent and honest and must not wilfully disrupt the employer’s business nor disclose any confidential information. They also have the duty to take care of their own health and safety and that of other people who might be affected by their acts or omissions in the workplace.


Apprentices must apply themselves diligently to learning all aspects of the chosen occupations and must complete all phases of training and assessment as required by the particular apprenticeships.



Promoting women into Apprenticeship

It is SOLAS policy to promote and encourage the entry of women into apprenticeship. To assist women wishing to take up apprenticeships provision has been made for a range of special measures including:


Women Apprentices – Bursary for Employers: SOLAS offers a bursary to both private and public sector employers who recruit female apprentices under the Standards-Based Apprenticeship system in the currently designated trades. Each employer may receive a total grant of €2,661 for each female apprentice recruited. The bursary is paid in Phases 1 and 3 of the apprenticeship.


Preparatory training for women: To help women in particular to prepare for an apprenticeship SOLAS and the education system provide preparatory training where necessary. By providing relevant practical and theoretical training these courses aim to prepare women to train and work on what has been a traditionally male environment.


Support during the Apprenticeship: During the full time duration of apprenticeship SOLAS gives support, encouragement, advice and assistance to female apprentices.


What if I am a person with a disability? People with a disability who meet the entry requirements are encouraged to apply directly to employers for apprenticeship places. Alternatively a number of persons with a disability will be selected annually for a special panel for whom assistance will be provided to find appropriate apprentice employers. Details regarding this special panel may be obtained from any FÁS Employment Service Office.

You can become an Apprentice by:

Looking through the job advertisements in the local and national press. Large companies and corporations like the ESB, Army, Iarnoid Eireann and Aer Lingus often advertise there.

Registering with your local SOLAS Employment Services Office who will put you in touch with employers looking for apprentices.

Applying directly to local firms for an apprenticeship. Write your Curriculum Vitae and send it to them with a covering letter explaining what you are looking for. REMEMBER always type letters to potential

employers (Look at the Golden Pages or your local Business Shopping Guide for a listing of companies).

See your guidance counsellor or principal as some employers recruit through local schools. Within two weeks of taking up employment you should register as an apprentice with FÁS.

SOLAS, in co-operation with the Institutes of Technology, has developed protocols and procedures in relation to the Recognition of Prior Learning in Apprenticeship. These enable persons who have gained relevant experience or qualifications, for example under the old ‘Time-Served’ Apprenticeship System or in other countries’ systems, to gain exemption from some of the earlier phases of the current seven-phase system. In 2006, 180 persons obtained a National Craft Certificate following this process.

  • Racing: You can train to become a jockey at: Curagh House, Kildare, Tel: 045 – 522468
  • Horology: Diploma course for anyone who wants to become a watch and clock technician. The Irish/Swiss Institute of Horology, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 Tel: 01 – 8213352
  • Irish Rail, Dublin Bus and Irish Bus generally seek the following apprentices each year: Electricians, Fitter/Turner, Heavy Vehicle Mechanic, Vehicle Body Repairer.
  • Aer Lingus (aircraft engineering & maintenance) offer Apprenticeships to aircraft maintenance engineers.

Apprentice Training Allowances (Gross Wage Norms)


Training allowances for apprentices are calculated with reference to gross wage norms payable in industry for the different trade sectors. The actual allowance received will generally be less as it is based on the net take home pay calculated based on the Gross Wage Norm.

  • Engineering Industry
  • Construction Industry
  • Motor Industry
  • Printing and Paper Industry (4 year cycle)
  • Printing and Paper Industry (3 year cycle)
  • Electrical Industry (Trade 46)
  • Engineering Industry

Effective: 01 April 2007

Gross Wage Norm

  • Phase 2 €197.47
  • Phase 4 €296.42
  • Phase 6 €439.51
  • 4th Year €531.49



  • Fitting
  • Metal Fabrication
  • Sheet Metalwork
  • Toolmaking
  • Construction Industry


Effective: 01 January 8

Gross Wage Norm

  • Phase 2 €241.80
  • Phase 4 €362.70
  • Phase 6 €544.05
  • 4th Year €652.86



  • Brick & Stonelaying
  • Cabinet Making
  • Carpentry & Joinery
  • Painting & Decorating
  • Plastering
  • Plumbing
  • Floor/Wall Tiling
  • Wood Machinery
  • Motor Industry


Effective: 01 May 2008

Gross Wage Norm

  • Phase 2 €195.25
  • Phase 4 €293.17
  • Phase 6 €439.75
  • 4th Year €527.70



  • Agricultural Mechanics
  • Vehicle Body Repairs
  • Motor Mechanics
  • Heavy Vehicle Mechanics
  • Construction Plant Fitting


Printing and Paper Industry – 4 Year cycle


Note: Printing Rates advised by I.M.P.A.

Effective: 01 November 2007

Gross Wage Norm

  • Phase 2 €143.68
  • Phase 4 €215.75
  • Phase 6 €323.61
  • 4th Year €388.36


Printing and Paper Industry – 3 Year Cycle


Note: Printing Rates advised by I.M.P.A.

Effective: 01 November 2007


Gross Wage Norm

  • Year 1 €323.63
  • Year 2 €345.21
  • Year 3 €388.36



  • Bookbinding
  • Origination
  • Printing
  • Carton Making

Electrical Industry (Trade 46)

Employed by Electrical Contracting Firms (Industry 04/01/016)


Effective: 01 April 2007


Gross Wage Norm

  • Phase 2 €242.58
  • Phase 4 €363.87
  • Phase 6 €525.72
  • 4th Year €647.01


  • Aircraft Mechanics
  • Electrical
  • Electrical Instrumentation
  • Refrigeration & Air-conditioning
  • Instrumentation


Some Company Apprenticeships, most notably the E.S.B., require that you sit a Psychometric Test