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Higher and Further Education; Research; Innovation and Science | Demand-driven educational training and apprenticeship programmes

To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the total number of apprentices currently available; the extent to which this is sufficient to meet requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Apprenticeships are employer led demand-driven educational and training programmes that aim to develop the skills of an apprentice in order to meet the needs of industry and the labour market. As apprentices are employees the demand for and number of apprentices is primarily dictated by the employer base in any area or sector.

The Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 sets out new ways of structuring, funding, and promoting apprenticeships to make apprenticeship more accessible to employers and learners, to achieve a target of 10,000 annual registrations across a wide range of programmes by 2025. Expanding apprenticeship across all sectors of the economy has widened its impact in areas of skills shortage such as Engineering, Technology Skills, Logistics and FinTech. Under the Plan there will be an increase in online visibility of apprenticeship engagement and apprenticeship development processes for employers/sectors who wish to assess the potential for new apprenticeship development.

Apprenticeship registrations in 2021 were the highest they have been since 2007, with 8,607 apprentices employed on 62 programmes. 6,955 registrations were in craft apprenticeship programmes and 1652 on the newer consortia led programmes launched since 2016. As of end October the apprentice population is 25, 523, representing an over 40% increase on the population at end of 2019, the last ‘normal’ full year of operation.

These apprentices are registered across all 66 apprenticeship programmes currently on offer: 25 craft programmes and 41 programmes introduced since 2016. Eight new programmes were launched over 2020 and 2021, despite the pandemic; Arboriculture, Equipment Systems Engineer, Healthcare Assistant, Principal Engineer – Professional Doctorate, Recruitment Executive, Sales, Scaffolding , Supply Chain Associate. 4 more programmes have been launched so far in 2022; Bar Manager, Wind Turbine Maintenance, Transport Operations & Commercial Driving and Cybersecurity Practitioner.

To meet our targets we require an apprenticeship system that is flexible and responsive, providing a strong value proposition for employers and potential apprentices, is attractive and easy to engage with, and which delivers high standards and sought after qualifications, therefore embedding apprenticeship as a preferred route to skills development.

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