This Government is committed to making our national apprenticeship more accessible to under-represented groups including women. As set out in the Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship in Ireland, SOLAS has completed a review on pathways to participation in apprenticeship. The purpose of the review is to ensure that our national apprenticeship system is more reflective of the range and diversity of our population, more inclusive of diverse backgrounds and abilities and that apprenticeship opportunities are more readily accessible to all. The review is available on the SOLAS website www.solas.ie.
Work is already under way in many of the areas identified for action and SOLAS will lead implementation of the actions, working closely with apprenticeship partners and stakeholders, in particular employers, education and training providers and apprentices themselves.
The areas highlighted for action include setting disability and socio economic targets, incorporating the national census questions on disability and ethnicity into apprentice registration as a means of gathering more robust data on participation and examining options to expand the bursary which is currently available to employers who employ females in craft apprenticeships.
Increasing practical supports for apprentices from under-represented groups, creating new pathways via pre-apprenticeship courses around the country and promoting diverse pathways to participation in apprenticeship in the Generation Apprenticeship campaign are also identified as areas for action. Women already feature prominently in all aspects of the Generation Apprenticeship campaign, where there is a specific focus on encouraging women and girls to consider apprenticeship as a means of launching or developing their careers.
As recommended in the review a new employer portal initiative which will provide capability to approved employers to advertise apprenticeships, as well as other value-added services is now live on the SOLAS website. To date over 100 employers have registered.
In addition, the recently published review of career guidance encourages the consideration of apprenticeship options by all second level students regardless of gender.