The Action Plan sets out a five year strategy to deliver on the programme for Government commitment of reaching 10,000 new apprentice registrations per year by 2025. Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Employers will be paid more to take on women or lone parents as apprentices

Additional money will also be given to businesses that take on people with a disability, or are from direct provision as apprentices.

EMPLOYERS WILL BE paid more to take on women, lone parents, a person with a disability, or someone from direct provision as apprentices under a new plan to get more people working in trades.

While the July Stimulus Initiative provided a temporary grant to employers in 2020 of €3,000 for all apprentices, under Budget 2021 provisions, the offer was extended until mid-2021.

This annual grant for employers to take on apprentices will now be extended to every business on a permanent basis in 2022.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, along with Minister of State Niall Collins, launched the initiative today as part of a new five year action plan to strengthen and grow the apprentice system in Ireland. 

The plan commits to 10,000 new apprentices every year by 2025 – doubling the number from 2020. 

It also sets new targets for the public sector to take on 750 apprentices per year by 2025.

The plan will also see an additional bursary of €2,666 will be extended to employers which have 80% apprentices of one single gender – for example hairdressing has 80% women apprentices, while media, plumbing, and mechanics are over 80% male. 


A bursary programme will also be developed for a maximum of 100 apprentices per
year who are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage and/or who are from
target groups, including lone parents, people with disabilities, Travellers and Roma.

This bursary will be at a rate of €5,000 per year, which is paid to the apprentice.

Harris said his department will broaden the range of apprenticeships on offer, including new apprenticeship schemes for healthcare assistants, green economy jobs, and farming.

New cross-border apprenticeship programmes, as well as pilot programmes for access to international placements for apprentices through existing Erasmus+ placements or through international on-the job placements will also be established under the five-year plan. 

Harris previously said that we need to “drop the snobby attitude” that the only way to progress in life is to go to university. 

Today, he said this plan is part of a system change and “culture change” that needs to take place in third level education.

An alternative route is needed to get people where they want to go in life, he said.

“Gone must be the day that this is the right way to do it,” said Harris, who added that there is no “right way” to get to achieve what you want to achieve in life. 

The government must work to provide as many different pathways to people, he said  different things will work for different people.

 “The world is changing fast. We have to rebuild and re-imagine our economy and society as we start to get the pandemic under control and reopen.

“This will include how we learn, train and upskill throughout our lives.

“Apprenticeship is a fantastic way to learn. We know this because apprentices told us when we asked them as part of our consultation process.

“I want to see apprenticeship discussed around kitchen tables, in boardrooms, in classrooms and anywhere else that decisions on education, skills and careers are made,” he said today.

“Like everything we do on further and higher education, I am determined that these
conversations are inclusive and that the apprenticeship population better reflects the
wonderful diversity of our people. This plan will achieve all this and more,” he added.

Collins said there needs to be a “de-stigmatising” of apprenticeships, stating there are diverse areas and viable careers that people can avail of.

All apprenticeship opportunities, including an increased number in the public sector, will be advertised on or linked from with clear guidance on expected recruitment dates for programmes with group intake.

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