The Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and the education and training providers are actively working to put in place alternative learning and assessment solutions for all apprentices, while maintaining the quality and integrity of the apprenticeship programme.
Alternative assessments for theory components of those craft apprenticeship programmes which were due to be completed in March this year have been delivered. Planning is underway to support the delivery of training and remaining practical assessments within health and social distancing guidelines once public health considerations provide for the return to training for this cohort of learners.
The issue of the timing of that return is under consideration at the current time in the overall context of the reopening of the education sector. Training allowances will generally be payable in cases where apprentices are required to recommence an off-the-job phase of their apprenticeship training due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their original phase.
The impacts of COVID-19 on apprenticeship intake will be considered as part of the overall recovery plan. A new action plan for apprenticeship which will be a successor to the Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship (2016 – 2020) is due for completion in 2020 and will seek to deliver on the target of 10,000 registration per annum by 2025 as set out within the Programme for Government.
In the meantime SOLAS will continue to provide ongoing updates for apprentices and employers in relation to the impact of Covid-19 on apprenticeship programmes. These may be found at www.apprenticeship.ie and also on Twitter @apprenticesirl.