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Communications technology has transformed our professional and social lives and is at the heart of Ireland's innovation economy.  The telecommunications industry employs 20,000 professionals, who deliver mission critical services every day. From fibre broadband rollout, to 4G capability, to data centres and cloud based services, this industry is the fulcrum that provides instant connectivity to people, services, entertainment and information on demand.

The growing need for a robust, reliable and expanding communications infrastructure poses significant challenges to telecommunications companies in terms of required competencies and the availability of qualified personnel.  In recent years a significant skills gap has developed in the industry, which threatens the sector’s ability to expand broadband coverage across the nation. In order to address this urgent need for expertise, companies from the telecommnications sector in partnership with TU Dublin, have developed a 2 year Telecommunications and Data Networks Technician Apprenticeship .  The Apprenticeship Programme will support employers from the ICT sector by providing a structure for the training of Technicians over a period of two years.

Career Profile

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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is the recognised means by which apprentices receive comprehensive training in order to become skilled in a particular area of employment.  Apprenticeship training provides alternating on-the-job training in conjunction with off-the-job training at Education and Training Boards and selected higher education institutions.  An apprenticeship normally has a specified duration depending upon the industrial sector. Apprentices sign an employment contract with the employer when commencing the apprenticeship and are considered to be part of the employed population who “earn while they learn”.  In addition, both the apprentice and employer also sign a SOLAS Apprenticeship registration form. Apprenticeship Programmes offer a smooth transition into valuable careers and upon completing a qualification the potential benefits for the fully qualified apprentice are large.

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What is the Apprenticeship in Telecommunications and Data Network Technician?

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This Apprenticeship Programme is one of the primary tools that the telecommunications industry will use to address the clear need for trained technicians in the field. The Programme will support employers from the ICT sector by providing a structure for the training of Technicians over a period of two years. The new Apprenticeship is a joint endeavor by companies engaged in the telecommunications sector and TU Dublin to provide a formal accredited apprenticeship programme for the development of the telecommunications workforce.  The objective of TU Dublin as coordinating provider, is to partner with industry members to enhance the quality of education and advancement opportunities for the overall telecommunications workforce in order to meet the ongoing network needs for the future.

TU Dublin will oversee the training and qualification standards and coordinate with SOLAS to approve participation in the programme. The primary intent is to provide quality education that guarantees an agreed level of training and competency across the industry. This Programme will help satisfy the need for the availability of highly skilled technical employees for ongoing network deployment projects.

At the completion of the new Apprenticeship Programme, the apprentice will receive a QQI accredited Higher Certificate in Telecommunications and Data Network Engineering which will be a nationally recognised qualification.  This award will ensure that the holder has proficiency as a Field Technician in the discipline. The programme will be delivered over two years, involving both off-the-job and on-the-job phases, developing subject matter expertise and investigating industry-wide standards.

Who is the programme suited for?

Hardware Technician

People seeking skilled employment often face a challenge that relevant work experience is a prerequisite for many jobs. But for many people, including school leavers, it is difficult to gain the required experience without being in the workplace. An apprenticeship offers the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed for entry or advancement into a particular skilled career field.

 

This two-year programme was developed in collaboration with the telecommunications industry and is designed to take a low skills entry level position to full occupational proficiency.  The telecommunications industry currently has an overarching need for technicians and this programme will help satisfy the need for the availability of highly skilled technical employees for on-going network deployment projects.

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Class contact hours

The apprenticeship in Telecommunications and Data Network Engineering involves a 24 month apprenticeship contract with an employer which incorporates both on-the-job and off-the-job elements.  Over the lifetime of the apprenticeship a total of eight blocks, each of two weeks duration, will be spent attending class and practical laboratories at TU Dublin.  In addition during the on-the-job elements a significant period of time will be spent in the form of work based learning with the employer in order to complete the Programme modules.

Entry Requirements

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The company will employ the apprentice and offer the contract of employment.  An apprentice cannot attend the off-the-job sessions at TUDublin without being first employed by a registered employer.

Some general entry qualifications for the apprenticeship can be listed as follows:

  • Applicant must be employed by a SOLAS approved employer within the Telecommunications sector

  • Applicant must hold a Leaving Certificate with a minimum of Grade O6/H7 in 5 subjects.  Alternatively an applicant can hold a level of qualification which is deemed equivalent to the requirements in the Leaving Certificate.

  • Mature candidates (23 years of age of older) as of 1 July of application are eligible

  • All Apprentices must pass the Ishihara Colour Vision Test (24 Plate Edition). 

Apprentice Registration

Apprentices from a registered employer must complete a statutory apprenticeship registration with SOLAS.  In conjunction with the Authorised Officer, the Employer and Apprentice must complete the ‘Apprentice Registration Form’.  The apprentice will receive written confirmation of their registration within 28 days along with arrangements for a mandatory apprenticeship briefing session.

Cost to consider for the Employee

The employer will contribute an annual fee of €750 towards the academic programme costs.  The apprentices will be employed by the employer for the duration of the programme.

The eight “off-the-job” blocks incorporated within the apprenticeship require full-time attendance (Monday to Friday) at TUDublin for duration of two weeks on each occasion. There are no accommodation or travel allowances paid for this apprenticeship.

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