A socio-technical analysis of the standards based apprenticeship in Ireland : a case study of the construction industry
Apprenticeship is one of the oldest forms of training and is one of the cornerstones on which a skills bank is built. It has been developed from a system of master and indentured apprentice, which existed in the period of the medieval guilds, to a dual system of education and training with both on-the-job and off-the-job periods of training and education. A number of unsuccessful attempts were made in the last century to re-structure apprenticeship in Ireland, including three Acts of the Oireachtas (Parliament). Despite this legislation, the only requirement to qualify as a craftsperson was to serve the appropriate length of time and to be a member of the craft union. There were no mandatory levels of competence to be reached by the apprentice before being recognised as a craftsperson. In 1991, the social partners agreed the need for an overhaul of the apprenticeship system and set in motion the process to develop an apprenticeship system that would ensure that all apprentices in the designated trades would have to reach predetermined standards on competence before they could be awarded the National Craft Certificate. The new system is modular in structure and known as the Standards Based Apprenticeship. This thesis examined the effectiveness of the Standards Based Apprenticeship system in meeting the present and future needs of the construction industry and in preparing apprentices to adapt to inevitable change in the industry. It concludes that the new system is superior to the time-served system it replaced in many respects but has identified some problems. The thesis concludes by making some recommendations for change to the system, based on the analysis of the responses from the stakeholders and which, if implemented, would in the opinion of the author, ensure that the Irish crafts persons are trained to the highest international standards.