Apprenticeships Frequently Asked Questions

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is a person who works for an employer in a chosen occupation and gains the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes to become a qualified craftsperson.

What are the trades covered by the Standards Based Apprenticeship?

What are the educational qualifications required to become an apprentice?

The minimum educational qualifications necessary to become an apprentice are 5 D grades in the Junior Certificate examination or equivalent, or successfully complete an approved Pre-Apprenticeship course, or be over 16 years of age and have at least three years relevant work experience approved by SOLAS. However, some employers may specify higher educational qualifications.

Are there any other requirements?

Yes – a person wishing to become an apprentice in one of the crafts marked with * above must pass the “Ishihara” Colour Vision Test 24 Plate Edition.

How do I become an apprentice?

You must obtain employment as an apprentice in your chosen trade.  Your employer must be approved to train apprentices and must register you as an apprentice within 2 weeks of recruitment.  Possible options include:-

– A relative, neighbour or friend who works in the trade
– Local or regionally-based companies operating in the trade
– Register with your local Employment Office indicating your interest in
becoming an apprentice. Local Employment Office staff try to match
job vacancies with registered individuals where possible.

What is the minimum age?

The minimum age is 16.

How long does it take?

A minimum of 4 years. The only exception is for the trade of Print Media which is a minimum of 3 years.

How is an Apprenticeship structured?

Apprenticeship generally comprises of seven phases, three off-the-job and four on-the-job. The only exceptions to the above are the Floor/Wall Tiling and Print Media apprenticeships, which have five phases, three on-the-job and two off-the-job training phases.

Off-the-job training is provided as follows:-

Phase 2 : Training Centre
Phase 4 : Institute of Technology or College of Further Education
Phase 6 : Institute of Technology or College of Further Education

On-the-job training

Employers have responsibility for providing on-the-job training in Phases 1, 3, 5 and 7.

How much will I get paid during my apprenticeship?

You will be paid an apprentice rate. The actual rates paid may vary depending on the occupation and the sector of industry in which you are employed. You should seek details of rates of pay for apprentice from your prospective employer.

Can I select which Training Centre or Institute of Technology I attend?

No. While every effort is made to accommodate apprentices close to home, this may not always be the case. Apprentices are scheduled on the longest waiting basis on the day of scheduling to the nearest available training location to their home address.

What happens if I don’t attend a Training Centre or Institute of Technology or College of Further Education when I am called?

SOLAS strongly recommends apprentices to accept whatever offers are made to them as failure to accept such offers will extend the period of apprenticeship training and may have financial repercussions throughout. Failure to attend after three calls will result in your apprenticeship being automatically suspended.

Can I take leave while on off-the-job training?

You are not entitled to take holidays during your off-the-job training phases.

Do I get paid when I am in a Training Centre or Institute of Technology or College of Further Education?

During off-the-job phases ,all qualifying apprentices are paid an Apprentice Training Allowance by SOLAS/ETB and where appropriate, a contribution towards travel or accommodation costs.

If I fail my exams, can I repeat them?

If you are referred (i.e have not met the required minimum standard in your assessments) you may repeat your exams on two more occasions, if necessary. However, failure in the final attempt will result in the termination of your apprenticeship. You may appeal the termination of your apprenticeship and if your appeal is successful, will be granted a final attempt.

What happens if my employer goes out of business or if I am made redundant during my apprenticeship?

Every effort will be made by SOLAS/ETB to help you progress through your apprenticeship if you find yourself in this situation. You should contact yourTraining Adviser assigned to you when you were registered as an apprentice who will be able to offer you advice and assistance.

If I am made redundant and can’t get work in Ireland, can I continue my apprenticeship abroad

No, however work experience gained abroad may be considered for accreditation towards time served.

What are my career prospects?

On successful completion of your apprenticeship, a  Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft is awarded. This is recognised Nationally and Internationally as the requirement for craftsperson status. You may further develop your career i.e. company-based, cross-skilling, up-skilling, management or self-employment.

Further Study – Progression

On successful completion of your apprenticeship you are eligible for consideration for entry into related degree programmes provided by the Institutes of Technology provided you also meet other special entry requirements. Details of the higher education institutes offering progression from  Advanced Certificate – Craft to levels 7 and 8 are available on the FETAC website

I don’t want to attend the Awards Ceremony, so can I get my cert without going?

Yes, you may apply to the local SOLAS/ETB office in your employment location.

If I lose my card/cert can I get a replacement?

SOLAS can provide replacement cards. Application for a replacement card should be made to Apprenticeship Services. Please phone: 01 6070966. A fee will be charged for all replacements. QQI will issue a record of award to those who have misplaced their original certificate.  The forms can be obtained from Apprenticeship Services at the above number.

I’ve worked in a trade for a number of years but wasn’t a registered apprentice, can this time be considered as part of my apprenticeship?

SOLAS will consider applications for exemptions from the Standards-Based Apprenticeship programme for trade-related experience. However applicants must be registered as an apprentice before an application can be considered.

What if I have Special Requirements or require Learning Support?

If you have any special requirements and need support i.e. dyslexia, numeracy, literacy, physical disabilities or medical conditions, it is your responsibility to inform SOLAS/ETB at the time of registration so that these needs can be catered for when you attend Off-the-Job training. If you require additional learning supports in learning techniques, maths/science/drawing, practical work, you should log on to and go to eCollege or contact your local Training Centre, an Institute of Technology, local VEC, evening classes or seek private tuition.