26 new apprenticeships have been launched today as part of €122 million investment in apprenticeships by Government in 2018.
The structured education and on-the-job training which apprenticeships provide is a feature of strong economies and forms part of a more varied, stronger mix of further and higher education options.
Apprenticeships can be a better pathway to a career for some school-leavers and mature learners and provide skills that are often more responsive to the job opportunities available.
Of the new apprenticeships launched today I particularly welcome two in areas under my remit as Minister for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development.
The first is the new Geo-Driller Apprenticeship at IT Carlow which will provide learners with the skills and knowledge required to work in a range of areas such as mineral exploration, engineering and construction.
The drilling profession is critically important to many practical areas including ground analysis – required as part of every construction and infrastructure development project – and ground water analysis which is helping us to better understand, for example, turloughs’ flooding patterns and flood risk in the West of Ireland which in turn is helping in the design of flood defences.
The second apprenticeship is the new ICT Associate Professional in Cybersecurity which will be led by the ‘FastTrack into Technology’ organisation. With almost all of our critical infrastructure, from energy to transport to health and finance, now ICT dependent, the need for cybersecurity professionals to help combat cyber threats has never been greater.
This new apprenticeship will provide professionals with the critical skills needed to work in cybersecurity which has become an area relevant to almost all organisations and businesses, whether in the public, private or non-profit sector.
The new apprenticeships also include programmes and qualifications in agriculture, horticulture, logistics, hospitality, healthcare and construction, among others, to be delivered by educational institutions across Ireland. I commend Ministers Bruton and Halligan and the Apprenticeship Council for their work and know that the benefit of the new apprenticeships will be experienced in communities nationwide.