I thank the Deputy for her question. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated education and training centre closures, the number of craft apprenticeship classes that could be run in 2020 was reduced. Some €12 million is being provided in 2021 to fund 2,000 apprenticeship places to mitigate the effect of lost provision in 2020 and the effect of smaller apprenticeship class sizes required by social distancing measures.
The apprenticeship incentivisation scheme, which provides a grant of €3,000 to employers for each new apprentice registered, is also being extended for the first half of 2021. This applies to all apprenticeships, including in the craft area, and is expected to support at least 3,500 employers in the first six months of 2021 at a cost of €7 million in 2021 and a further €3.5 million in 2022.
Some €2,000 of the grant is paid once the apprentice is registered, and a further €1,000 is paid after one year if the apprentice is still employed at that point.
Second-stage payments for the 2020 registrations under the scheme will be in excess of €3.7 million in 2021. Longer-term funding and support measures will be considered in the context of the next action plan for apprenticeship, which will be completed before the end of the year.
Thirty-three consortia-led apprenticeships have been launched since 2016, with a further three to launch before the end of the year. These are in diverse areas, such as biopharma, insurance, ICT and recruitment. Programmes range from two to four years and lead to qualifications at Quality and Qualifications Ireland levels 5 to 10. In addition, there are 20 more programmes in development.