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Apprenticeships Overview

An Apprenticeship is a programme of structured education and training which formally combines and alternates learning in the work place with learning in an education or training centre.

It is a dual system, a blended combination of on-the-job employer-based training and off-the-job training which:

  • prepares the participant for a specific occupation, and
  • leads to a qualification nationally recognised on the National Framework of Qualifications from Level 5-Level 10.

Apprentices are employed by an approved employer for the duration of the programme which is generally between 2-4 years. Apprenticeship programmes provide at least 50% workplace based learning.

Types of Apprenticeship

Craft Apprenticeships

A craft apprentice is someone training to become a fully qualified craftsperson. Craft apprenticeships are generally comprised of seven phases, three off-the-job and four on-the-job. ​For further information, please visit

New Apprenticeships 2016-2020

In 2013 the Minister for Education and Skills, announced a review of apprenticeship training in Ireland which resulted in the formation of the Apprenticeship Council and from this the National Apprenticeship System. A Call for Proposals for apprenticeships in new occupations issued in 2015.

The new Apprenticeships will lead to an award between Levels 5-10 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Each apprenticeship programme can be between 2-4 years in duration. Diverse models of training on-and-off the job are used, as well as different models of delivery and target groups (including those already in employment).

Apprenticeship development and roll-out is overseen by industry-led groups (consortia) working with education and training providers and other partners.  All new apprenticeships developed in Ireland after 2016 will follow this new apprenticeship approach and they will:

  • Be industry led
  • Be two years duration as a minimum
  • Involve learning that alternates between a workplace and an educational or training institute
  • Be a minimum of 50% on the job training
  • Be part of formal Education and Training
  • Be substantial in depth and duration, in order to prepare Apprentices to work autonomously and competently in a specific occupation

Apprenticeships at the University of Limerick 

The University of Limerick is Ireland's first University to offer apprenticeships from Level 7 Diploma to Level 10 PhD under the new apprenticeships banner. We currently offer the following apprenticeships:

Like the other New Apprenticeships, these qualifications have been created 'by industry for industry' and are aimed at building Ireland's capacity to be world industry leaders through enhancing the skills of its existing workforce. However, unlike traditional apprenticeships, the programmes at UL are designed for people who are already working and wish to gain additional knowledge and experience within their role. As such, all of our participants already have employment contracts that meet or exceed the duration of the apprenticeship. Please find further information on our current apprenticeship programmes.



Depending on the Apprenticeship programme, delivery is either conducted online or through a blend of face-to-face sessions and online learning. In all instances this learning is supported by a company mentor.

While apprentices’ will engage in significant study time the maximum ratio of on-the-job to off-the-job is 75/25. There are additional summer school requirements, industry based seminars and company visits to explore practical application of the course of study in Irish and International enterprises. These vary between programmes of study.

All Apprentices will engage in a Community of Practice to allow them to interact and engage in peer-to-peer learning and networking activities, masterclasses, and an e-portfolio.

Apprenticeships are supported by a dedicated resource from the University who will also work with the in-company mentors.

What are the Key Benefits to your company

  • Develop your own talent – fill your current or predicted skills by growing your own in-house knowledge and talent with a combination of on the-job training and formal studies
  • Bring fresh thinking to your business
  • Strengthen your employer brand and awareness
  • Enhance productivity and cost effectiveness

What are the Key Benefits to employees

  • Develop you own talent – Gain valuable skills with a combination of on-the-job training and flexible formal studies
  • Acquire in-depth understanding of the latest developments and emerging processes supporting innovations
  • Develop business and interpersonal skills such as teamwork, project management, report writing and presentation.



The Employer

As the provider of the on-the-job elements of the Apprenticeship Programme, the employer is a critical part of the apprenticeship programme. Apprentices and employers agree to comply with a Code of Practice as part of the statutory apprenticeship process.

Please refer to the SOLAS Apprenticeship Code of Practice, which sets out the participating employers’ and apprentices’ duties and responsibilities.

Key Considerations for an employer include the following:

  • Can you provide the apprentice with a contract of employment of employment for the duration of the programme
  • Will you faciliate the apprentice with time off to attend the required off-the-job training and study visits
  • Can you provide access for the apprentice to the range of facilities and activities that will allow the apprentice gain the experience and develop the skills they need
  • Can you provide a mentor to offer support and guidance to the apprentice in the workplace?
  • Are you aware that the work place mentor must attend a mandatory 1-day Mentor training workshop
  • Will your company engage with the coordinating provider in relation to feedback reviews and site visits?


The Workplace Mentor

The workplace mentor will be appointed by the employer and approved by a Senior Training Advisor/Authorised Officer. They should be occupationally qualified with the appropriate experience to support the apprentice through the programme.

The role of the Mentor includes:

  • To act as an advocate of the Apprentice Programme – understand it strategic importance and how it translates in the workplace.
  • Provide opportunities to enable the apprentice to achieve the intended programme learning outcomes.
  • Support the apprentice in communicating with the employer on training-related issues.
  • Attend a mandatory briefing day and effective mentoring skills workshop.
  • Attend Programme Board meetings if required and co-operate with review of the programme


Application Process

Those who wish to participate in the apprenticeship programme are require to undergo an approval process.

1.  Register your Company interest in the apprenticeship  programme by mailing

2.  Complete the UL Approval Process:

  •           Complete the Company sponsorship paperwork
  •           Site visit by UL programme manager to asses your suitability to host an apprenticeship
  •           Identification of an In-Company Mentor

3.  Complete the SOLAS approval process:

  •          Site visit by an Authorising Officer of the local Education a& Training Board
  •          SOLAS approval of company for funding
  •          Complete SOLAS paperwork for each apprentice

It can take up to 10 weeks for the approval process to be completed

4.  UL will send the successful applicant the link to apply for the apprenticeship.

  •         Candidates follows the normal UL postgraduate applications process



Company Regisration Process:  No Charge

Online Student Application Fee: €35

Annual Student Contribution Fee: 30% of UL student contribution fee is payable.  For 2019/2020 this will be €900

It should be noted that these fees are subject to change depending on the programme of study and external funders requirements