€20m in capital funding is being rolled out to respond to the growing demand for apprenticeships.
The funding will allow for a significant expansion in electrical, plumbing and carpentry places as well as additional Covid-19-related capacity in electrical, plumbing, hairdressing and pipefitting places.
The investment will be provided via SOLAS and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and will fund the delivery of almost 4,000 additional craft apprentice places annually across further and higher education.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said the new funding will help to catch up on the lost provision in 2020.
He said the funding will support the target increase of 1,450 registrations across all apprenticeships in 2021.
"Access to cutting edge equipment is key to positioning apprenticeships as a valued and attractive path to sought-after qualifications. A strong pipeline of craft apprentices is also critical in sustaining the construction sector and delivering on our ambitious national infrastructure plans," Mr Harris said.
The Minister also said that the Government will shortly consider a new Action Plan for Apprenticeships.
"It will set out new ways of structuring, funding and promoting apprenticeships, with a target of 10,000 new apprenticeship registrations per year by 2025. This compares with a 2019 registration figure of 6,177. We have huge ambitions in this area," he said.
Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins said that as with other parts of the education and training system, the apprenticeship system experienced significant disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"By supporting additional apprenticeship places, the investment announced today will go some way towards mitigating the impacts of the pandemic, including requirements for smaller class sizes due to social distancing, and will also facilitate expansion for the longer term," he added.