Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Questions (674)

Mick Barry


674. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if measures will be put in place to give regard to the arrangements for those preparing for their final apprenticeship exams in view of the Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13027/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The COVID-19 related suspension of face to face training for apprentices in Training Centres, IoTs and Technological Universities has had a significant impact on craft apprenticeship off-the-job training. When permissible, on-site practical training is also operating at approximately 50% normal capacity to ensure adherence to public health guidance.

Since January 11th training facilities have again been closed however theoretical training aspects of the craft apprenticeship courses have been delivered online for apprentices who are due to attend off-the-job training during this period. Intensive work is underway to agree a phased basis return to onsite training for apprentices who have had their training interrupted or who were close to assessment before the January shutdown. A small number of Phase 2 apprentices returned to Training Centres on the 1st March and apprenticeship stakeholders are continuing to engage on plans for a limited return of Phase 4 and 6 apprentices.

SOLAS is providing weekly updates directly to apprentices, and employers of apprentices, who are currently assigned to off the job training phases.

In addition to the urgent work on returning apprentices to onsite training, SOLAS and the HEA are exploring the development of additional training capacity across education and training providers with the objective of tackling the waiting lists and ensuring that apprentices complete their training as quickly as possible.