Ireland’s new Tech Apprenticeships redefine the concept of ‘hire education’

Today, FIT is announcing a new tech apprenticeship initiative comprising two technology apprenticeships at Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) namely:

  • ICT Associate Professional Software Developer
  • ICT Associate Professional Network Engineer

International experience indicates that ICT apprenticeships help technology businesses build a skilled and motivated workforce in a timely and cost effective manner. Employers of all sizes gain access to adept tech enthusiasts who attain bespoke skills that enable them to be highly productive and to ‘hit the ground running’ in a relatively short period.

Open to people of Leaving Cert standard or equivalent, the tech apprenticeships embrace a ‘learning by doing’ format of ICT skills development, which has been championed by industry and is now incorporated as an integrated component of statutory provision.

The two-year paid programmes, based on a dual-education model, integrate college-based learning with on-the-job application in companies such as Accenture, and culminates in the attainment of the ICT Associate Professional Apprenticeship Award. All training costs of the apprentices will be covered by the State through the National Training Fund. FIT manages all aspects of the programme and coordinates employer input.

Peter Davitt, CEO of FIT said at the announcement today “Research that FIT is currently concluding into skills needs indicate current vacancies in the tech sector to be in the thousands and growing. We believe 75% of these roles can be addressed in a timely manner through the new Tech Apprenticeships to the benefit of indigenous companies as well as the multi-nationals located in Ireland and most importantly to the benefit of those wishing to pursue a fulfilling career in the sector”. Davitt praised the vision of the Apprenticeship Council for supporting the development of new apprenticeships and acknowledged the key role of the Education and Training Boards throughout the country in the delivery of the training elements of the programme.

People with tech skills are in demand – not just in the IT sector – more and more jobs across industry require various levels of proficiency in IT. This is a trend which is anticipated to grow as increasingly companies utilise technologies to manage their activities, market their products, communicate with their customers and increase productivity. Emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are creating daily, new industrial sectors, way beyond the prospects of driverless cars, delivery by drones etc., resulting in the creation of new roles, skill sets and career paths across all sectors of the economy, which are expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Hilary O’Meara, a Managing Director at Accenture Ireland said, “We are delighted to welcome 13 participants in the FIT ICT Associate Professional Software Development programme into Accenture this week which is part of the pilot initiative that preceded and informed the new Tech Apprenticeships. Participating companies, such as ourselves, sponsor trainees during the programme, allowing them to earn while developing important skills working with our teams and our clients. This programme brings increased diversity of experience and thinking and has enabled us to broaden our talent pool to shape the workforce we need to help clients succeed. Participants from the pilot programmes have been hired as Accenture employees at the end of their journey.”

Daniel Chew, a participant in the pilot programme said, “Being a part of the FIT ICT Associate Professional programme has been an amazing experience for me. I have learnt so much in the last six months in college and am very much looking forward to putting my learning into practice over the next 18 months with my sponsor company, Accenture. I am anticipating an exciting and bright future ahead in a dynamic and ever-changing Industry.”

Following the announcement Dr Mary-Liz Trant, Executive Director of Skills Development in SOLAS said: ‘We warmly congratulate FIT and the consortium on their development of two exciting new ICT apprenticeships. Together with the Education and Training Boards we look forward to supporting roll out of the new programmes over the coming months.’

The first six months of the programme is intensive college-based learning where apprentices are equipped with the necessary technical acumen. The remaining 18 months are a combination of on-the-job experience with participating countries, supplemented with college-based instruction.

Participating companies pay candidates throughout the apprenticeship and facilitate the on-the-job learning, thereby enabling apprentices to generate added value through honing their knowledge, skills and competencies in real-time while contributing to product development, technological advancement and talent development.

On successful completion of the programme, qualified tech apprentices will typically progress into full-time positions within their sponsoring companies thereby enhancing the talent portfolio while increasing productivity and competitiveness in those enterprises.


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