It is important to acknowledge that apprenticeships represent a meaningful, valuable and realistic pathway for all learners. That is hugely important. The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science published the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 earlier this year. Under the plan, the development of apprenticeship taster courses will be explored as part of transition year and senior cycle reform with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA.
The leaving certificate vocational, LCV, programme operating in our schools is designed to enhance the vocational dimension of the leaving certificate established, with a focus on enterprise and preparing students for working life. The leaving certificate applied, LCA, programme in our schools also includes modules on vocational preparation, including work experience and enterprise.
The Deputy will be aware that the NCCA has undertaken an extensive review of senior cycle programmes and vocational pathways, including transition year, the leaving certificate applied, the leaving certificate vocational programme and the leaving certificate established. A key theme of this review is the future form and reform of the existing senior cycle programmes. This includes the range of learning programmes and pathways available to students at senior cycle, with an express desire that senior cycle should provide adequate supports for whatever progression pathways students choose. The important consideration here is that the senior cycle must be in a position, as the Deputy has outlined, to provide a myriad of pathways forward for students, whatever those pathways might be and however they determine themselves. The Department of Education is considering the report and other aspects of the NCCA's advisory report, as I have outlined, and it will be published shortly. There is a very clear understanding that we are looking towards and focusing on providing as many pathways forward and diversity for students as possible.