The nominal dur ation of apprenticeship is four years. With the exception of those who fail or refuse to attend training, the vast majority of apprentices complete their training within this period. However, issues have arisen in regard to the timeliness of provision of off-the-job training at phases two, four and six of the seven phase standards-based apprenticeship system. These delays vary by trade, geographical location, and the date on which the apprentice was registered with FÁS.
Currently, concerted efforts are under way to reduce waiting times. All apprentices are being offered a phase two training place within the first year of their apprenticeship. The number of apprentices currently eligible to attend for phase four and six training stands at 2,830, all of whom will be offered training by January 2001.
FÁS has introduced a number of measures designed to provide all apprentices with more timely off-the-job training. The number of training places for phase 2 has been increased from 3,300 places annually as at September 1996 to a current provision of 7,060 places. The Department of Education and Science has increased the number of phase four and six training places from 4,100 places annually as at September 1996 to a current provision of 9,500 places. The institutes of technology provided an additional 750 phase 4 and 6 training places during summer 2000. FÁS has also contracted for the provision of 660 phase four electrician training places in the ESB. FÁS has also introduced a number of administrative changes to working procedures that have significantly improved attendance at training. These changes have resulted in an effective further increase in training capacity.