There has been a positive discussion in recent weeks on the success of the national apprenticeship incentivisation scheme, which was introduced late last year. The scheme which provides a grant to support employers of apprentices has been declared a success by Government officials.
Just last week, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris commented on the programme’s progress, whilst also revealing further Government plans to support the national apprenticeship programme.
“The Government has ambitious plans to expand apprenticeship opportunities to reach 10,000 new apprentices registering per year by 2025 and later this month, we will launch a new apprenticeship action plan.
“But we have had some success already. Last year, we announced the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme and today, I can confirm we have received applications for 3,300 apprentices,” Minister Harris said.
The development of this incentivisation scheme has been very positive for both apprentice employers and employees and shows some degree of commitment from the Government, in supporting the national apprenticeship programme; while also acknowledging the real financial difficulties faced by employers in recent times.
What exactly is the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme?
The apprenticeship incentivisation scheme works for all apprenticeship programmes – that is a total of 59 traditional and modern apprenticeship offerings, as of March 2021. Solas – the State agency which oversees the national apprenticeship programme – is responsible for developing and delivering the scheme, under which apprenticeship employers are eligible for a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice who has been or will be registered between the period of 1 March and 30 June 2021. Two thousand euro per apprentice is payable at the point of registration, with a further €1,000 payable in the third quarter of 2021, for each eligible apprentice retained on their apprenticeship.
The latest Government figures show that of the 3,300 employer applications submitted for apprentices since the scheme began, 1,941 employer claims have already been submitted.
Speaking about the scheme recently, Sandra Doyle, senior training adviser with Laois-Offaly Education Training Board (LOETB) said:
“We have seen a huge growth in apprentice employers over the last two years. We have increased employer numbers from 199 up to 264 by December 2020 – which was a 32% increase and that is probably down to the employer apprenticeship incentivisation scheme.
“It is definitely worth looking into for an employer, as they will get the chance to build their own skilled labour force and receive financial support. Very often when I am meeting employers at that final stage of apprenticeship certification, they want to retain their apprentice.”
Advertise apprenticeship jobs
First, advertise apprenticeship jobs. Registered employers taking on apprentices as part of the scheme are requested to use the free jobs portal facility on the official apprenticeship website to advertise vacancies (see below).
If you are not currently an apprenticeship employer but are interested in becoming one you can submit an expression of interest and complete the online process. Your local Education and Training Board (ETB) should be able to offer you advice and assistance also.
Register your apprentice
Once you have taken on an apprentice employee, you will need to register them as an apprentice with Solas. This is done by your local ETB apprenticeship adviser.
Apply for the incentive
Once your apprentice has been registered you should apply for the incentive payment. At this point employers who are eligible for the payment will be asked to submit a claim form, which includes tax clearance details and the provision of bank details. Subject to approval, the claim will be processed promptly for payment.
For apprentices who have been registered to date since 1 March 2021, Solas should shortly make contact with eligible employers to invite them to submit a claim form.
Apprentices must continue to be employed by the employer after submitting a claim form for the incentive payment.
Employers who have made an apprentice redundant between 1 March and 30 June 2021 are not eligible to make a claim under the scheme.
Employers cannot claim for both the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme and JobsPlus (An incentive which rewards employers who employ jobseekers on the “Live Register”) for their apprentices. Apprenticeship employers will be subject to monitoring visits and contact by Solas authorised officers.
Queries may be directed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use the “Jobs Portal” facility on www.apprenticeshipjobs.ie to advertise your apprenticeship vacancy, or to submit an expression of interest in becoming an apprenticeship employer.