Apprenticeship in surveying maps out promising futures

What was once seen as a path chosen mainly by those wishing to pursue a career in a particular ‘trade’ – such as plumbing, mechanics or electrics – these days an apprenticeship is all encompassing and is open to people of all ages

James Lonergan, Director of Education & CPD at SCSI

It was once seen as a path chosen mainly by those wishing to pursue a career in a particular ‘trade’, such as plumbing, mechanics or electrics. But these days, an apprenticeship is all-encompassing and is open to people of all ages who wish to develop their knowledge and skill and gain a qualification or a degree while getting invaluable on-the-job experience.

Indeed, there has been an increase in apprenticeship programmes across every sector in recent years, and with the launch of the Advanced Quantity Surveying Apprenticeship, a whole new pathway is open to those looking to begin or develop a career as a chartered surveyor.

The new programme is an industry-led apprenticeship developed by a partnership between the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) and a consortium of industry representatives. The two-year course leads to an award of an MSc at Level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications, with 50 per cent of the course comprising of on-the-job learning and 50 per cent comprising of learning on campus in TUS Limerick.

James Lonergan, director of education and CPD at SCSI, the independent professional body for chartered surveyors working and practicing in Ireland, says that the programme is designed for those with a primary honours degree or postgraduate diploma in a built environment programme, but not exclusively so.

“Entry is also available to those with an appropriate professional qualification or to those with any primary honours degree and five years or more of relevant experience,” he said. “The aim is to make it as accessible as possible to help attract a diverse range of applicants to the programme.”

We have had very strong interest from employers and there are a number of benefits to them

The first intake of students have not yet come on board as this is a brand-new apprenticeship, which launched in late 2023, but Professor Vincent Cunnane, president of TUS, says the academic institution is committed to working with industry to develop high-quality apprenticeships to level 9 and level 10.

“We are delighted to partner with industry and the SCSI in developing and delivering high-quality apprenticeships to meet skills needs,” he said. “The TUS Apprenticeship Strategic Implementation Plan provides a holistic roadmap for the development of the apprenticeship model in TUS up to 2030. It outlines our ambitions to be a leading provider of high-quality, industry-led, national apprenticeship programmes which are flexible and adaptable to the needs of industry, the economy, and the apprentices.”

James Lonergan agrees and says that he hopes the programme will have a broad appeal as it will be diverse in nature and will allow candidates to ‘earn and learn’.

“The intention is that there would be 20 students in the initial cohort and in terms of gender split, it is our hope that we will see a good balance of male and female apprentices on this programme,” he said. “Employers who take on an apprentice for this programme will be eligible for a grant of €2,000 per apprentice per year for male apprentices – and to help encourage and support gender diversity, this grant increases to €2,666 for female apprentices.

“Apprentices will be on the job for three days per week in semester one of this course and four days per week in semesters two to four. Employers are required to cover full-time employment costs of the apprentice, including day release for off-the-job training during the academic semesters, and this blend of on-the-job and off-the-job will allow apprentices on this course to ‘earn and learn’. This means that not only are they better able to financially support themselves, but they will also have the benefit of applying their learning within the workplace throughout the course of their studies, leading to better outcomes for both the apprentice and the employer alike.”

While there is no doubt that apprentices will benefit from taking part in in the programme and making strides towards their future career as Chartered Surveyors, it is also beneficial to companies who will be employing the apprentices.

“We have had very strong interest from employers already and there are a number of benefits to them,” said Lonergan. “Apprentices from diverse backgrounds and abilities including older learners, career changers and women will widen the talent pool and bring new ideas to industry. Businesses who harness the opportunity that apprenticeships present will gain a competitive advantage through bespoke skills development and through employees who are applying their skills as they learn.

“Apprenticeships can provide a consistent pipeline of motivated, highly skilled employees and recent research from the National Apprenticeship Office showed strong levels of retention of apprentices after they qualify.

“So, I would encourage any prospective employers, apprentices or any others who are interested in the Advanced Quantity Surveyor Apprenticeship to contact me at james@scsi.ie or drop into me in the SCSI offices in Merrion Square and I will be delighted to provide support, help and guidance to begin the journey.”