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What apprenticeships are in demand? Irishtimes: Peter McGuire

Posted on almost 6 years ago by Laurentina Kennedy


What apprenticeships are in demand?  Irishtimes: Peter McGuire

The needs of business and industry decide what apprenticeships are on offer. Maria Walshe of further education and training agency Solas says some sectors are expanding faster than others and this is due to growth in the economy. 

“The trades that we are forecasting the highest registrations for this year are carpentry and joinery, plumbing, electrical, metal fabrication and motor mechanics,” she says. “There are skills shortages in the construction sectors, including plastering, bricklaying, painting and decorating, and stonecutting and stonemasonry. In the motor sector, there are heavy vehicle mechanics, motor mechanics and vehicle body repair.” There are also 11 new apprenticeships. “Some of them are in their infancy and others are quite a niche – such as, for example, international financial specialist, so it is difficult to predict the most in-demand,” says Walshe. “In terms of forecasted demand for 2018, those with the biggest numbers registering are commis chef, accounting technician, insurance practice and ICT.” 

Most apprenticeship trades are highly mobile and apprentices have excellent opportunities to live and work abroad, including in Australia, Canada and the Middle East. These are some of the details of apprentice programmes listed on
Carpentry and joinery: Cutting, shaping and joining wood and wood-based products using hand tools, power tools and machines. Carpenters and joiners install floors, stairs, windows and built-in furniture. They hang doors, install floors and also manufacture windows, stairs, doors and more. Work is done on and off-site. Employers usually prefer applicants with at least an H3 or H4 in ordinary-level maths. 

Plumbing: Another area where there is high demand, plumbers install, maintain and repair water systems and hot and cold water supplies in private, public, commercial and industrial buildings. They also carry out routine servicing and emergency repairs as well as work on heating systems including underfloor, geothermal and solar panels. Again, a minimum H3 or H4 in ordinary-level maths is often sought.

Electrical: Electricians commission, install, test and maintain routine electrical systems in buildings as well as more complex operations in power plants, hospitals and factories. Many are employed by the ESB to work on power supply and distribution or public lighting. An H3 or H4 in ordinary maths is often sought. Metal fabrication: Metal fabricators manufacture and install metallic systems including tanks and boilers, piping systems, pressure vessels and more. They use thermal processes including welding and brazing and use a range of machinery including thermal cutting equipment. 

Motor mechanics: The term “mechanic” is synonymous with a motor mechanic, who fixes and maintains cars including preparing them for the National Car Test and diagnosing problems or potential problems with cars or light vehicles.

Commis chefs: Commis chefs are essentially junior chefs who do basic preparation and cooking work in different parts of the kitchen. It’s the first step on the road to being a head chef. Chefs are in very short supply so this is a much-needed apprenticeship. While the image of long hours and angry chefs can be a turn-off, Dr. Frank Cullen, head of the school of culinary arts and food technology at DIT, says modern kitchens are changing and that cafes and restaurants know they need to be more attractive to employees. This apprenticeship, run with the Irish Hotels Federation, leads to a level 6 advanced certificate in culinary arts and involves on- and off-the-job training.

Insurance: The three-year ‘earn and learn’ Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship programme enables apprentices to work for an insurance employer, earn a salary, while also studying for a BA Hons in Insurance Practice (IT Sligo). The programme has over 100 places available annually. For more information see earn and 

Accounting technician: A two-year work-based learning programme with four days of on-the-job learning and one day a week in college, with a minimum apprenticeship salary of €18,000 a year – this rises significantly upon qualification. Accounting technicians support accountants with payroll, book-keeping and other clerical and administrative accounting tasks. See accounting technician 

More details of apprenticeships and what they entail can be found on