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Minister Harris announces more than 1,000 extra college places and development of new apprenticeship programmes

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today announced the expansion of third-level including targeted college places and new apprenticeship programmes.


An extra 1056 targeted college places will be offered through the CAO for the 2022/2023 academic year, while 16 new apprenticeship programmes are being developed, and the Post-Leaving Cert course levy of €200 will be abolished in September.


Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I’m delighted to announce these additional college places as I know it is a constant concern for Leaving Cert students.


“This year we have made a real effort to make sure that they are in sought after courses, and ones that will produce graduates with the skills our country is crying out for.


“Some examples of courses receiving extra places this year include IT, architecture and construction, nursing, engineering, education and welfare.


“In the coming weeks the Minister for Health and I will also bring a memo to Government to outline a five-year plan to secure extra places in medicine, another area in which we are in need of more qualified staff.


“After a stressful number of weeks for school-leavers, I hope today will offer some good news about the weeks ahead.”


The expansion of third level will include additional apprenticeship programmes too. Over the next number of months, an additional 16 will commence this year.


This will include Roofing and Cladding, Robotics and Automation, and a degree programme in Cybersecurity.

For those who choose a Post-Leaving Cert course, the €200 levy has been abolished from September.


Minister Harris added: “While these extra CAO places are a vital and welcome development, it is essential we continue to expand our third level system for everyone. There must be multiple pathways that learners can take as they prepare for their chosen careers.


“That’s why we are working hard to introduce new apprenticeship programmes, such as the ones in bar managing and wind turbine maintenance which we launched in March, and we have also improved the financial incentives on offer to employers to take on apprentices, particularly female ones.


“We are also working hard to improve pathways from further to higher education as part of our Unified Tertiary System strategy. There should be no barriers for students who want to pursue their chosen educational and career goals.


“Students anxiously awaiting their Leaving Cert results should know that while their points are important, they alone will not determine whether they can succeed in their education and career ambitions.


“There are different routes to getting where you want to go, and we are working hard to ensure they are accessible to everyone.”





Notes to the Editor


CAO Places in Targeted Skills Areas

1,056 places have been identified and are available from September 2022. The number of places reserved for students entering Higher Education through specific access routes e.g. HEAR/DARE/Mature/FET will increase proportionately with any increase in the overall place allocation on the specific courses. All of these additional places will be a permanent addition to the system.


Expansion in Apprenticeships

  • A key objective of the ‘Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025’ is to ensure that the apprenticeship system will increase its contribution to meeting Ireland’s skills and human capital requirements by delivering on a target of 10,000 apprenticeship registrations per annum by 2025.
  • Apprenticeship is a demand- led, employer driven training system. As such, there are no limits on places which can be provided, and, subject to meeting strict qualifying criteria for programme development and delivery, no limit on the programmes which may be developed and delivery through this means.
  • In 2021, a record 8,607 new apprentices were registered in the apprenticeship system. This was an increase of nearly 40% compared to 2019 and was partly due to the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme. The Scheme was introduced in July 2020 to ensure that apprenticeship played a key part in supporting economic recovery following Covid-19. It has now ended although a new payment, the Employer Grant Scheme, means that for the first time, all apprenticeship programmes receive ongoing financial support.
  • In November last year, the CAO 2022 application system opened and for the first time it included information on apprenticeship options, with a link to
  • Visits to directly from CAO/options page are up to 27,449 since the beginning of November 2021. 
  • On 14 April the new gender-based bursary for apprenticeship employers was announced. The bursary, which is worth €2,666, is available to employers who employ apprentices on any national apprenticeship programme with greater than 80% representation of a single gender. It is being implemented with effect from 01 January 2022, and covers all new apprentice registrations from that date on eligible national apprenticeship programmes.
  • The following table shows the 16 apprenticeship programmes which are currently in development, their National Framework of Qualifications levels and where each of them are in the ten-step development process.


Apprenticeships in development



Development Step


Farm Manager L7

Step 5: Occupational Profile Approved


Advanced Quantity Surveyor L9

Step 7: Creation of Industrial Training Officer


Civil Engineering L6

Step 2: Approval for Development


Civil Engineering L7

Step 2: Approval for Development


Cybersecurity Practitioner L8

Step 9: Approval of Employers, Registration of Apprentices


Farm Technician L6

Step 5: Occupational Profile Approved


Executive Chef L9

Step 4: Programme Development


Horticulture L6

Step 5: Occupational Profile Approved


International Financial Services Advanced Specialist L9

Step 4: Programme Development


Manufacturing Data Integration Engineer L7

Step 4: Programme Development


Precision Machinist & Quality Control L6

Step 4: Programme Development


Robotics & Automation L6

Step 2: Approval for Development


Roofing & Cladding L5

Step 4: Programme Development


Stud Farm Assistant Management L7

Step 5: Occupational Profile Approved


Software Solutions Architect L9

Step 8: Implementation Plan & Budget agreed


Sports Turf Management L6

Step 5: Occupational Profile Approved