There’s no doubt about it: apprenticeships still have an image problem. They’re largely seen as a fall-back option for young people who don’t get enough points for college, or who are bright and capable but not particularly academic, or who want a trade.
Prof John Hegarty of the Royal Irish Academy touched on this recently when he told an Oireachtas education committee: “There is definitely, among parents, a snob value in the sense that university and higher education are better and the place to go, even if the student is totally unsuited.”
An ambitious plan from further education and training agency Solas aims to change this by making them career plan “A” for people from all backgrounds and abilities.
The apprenticeship model of learning – traditionally associated with crafts including construction, the motor industry and electrics – is expanding into new areas.
The first insurance practitioner and industrial electrical engineering apprentices started learning last September, and about 20 more will be coming on stream over the next few years; the first of these are expected to be in financial services, accounting technician, original equipment manufacturer and commis chef.