New report: Review of Consortia-Led Apprenticeships in Ireland

21–11–2022

A newly published report sets out the findings of a QQI-commissioned review of the quality assurance, governance arrangements and processes developed for the 39 consortium-led apprenticeships that were established by mid-2021.

In doing so, the report offers a snapshot of the diversity of industries, occupations, delivery models and qualification levels that the consortium-led model of apprenticeship has been able to accommodate since the model was rolled out in 2016.

Image of group of four, two men and two women, working in a lab

Save the date

On 24th January 2023, QQI will host a short webinar on the review report where the external consultants will deliver a presentation on findings and answer a range of questions.

More details to come including start times and how to submit your questions but mark your calendars now to avoid missing out!

Conducting the review

The mandate for the review was provided by the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025, and it was undertaken with the aim of understanding the operation of the quality assurance framework and the consortia-led systems of programme governance. Conducted by Stephen McManus, Catherine Peck and John Vickery following a public request for tenders, the review project was guided at key points by a stakeholder steering group and supported by an advisory group chaired by QQI.

The review was informed by documents (more than 170), surveys (3 surveys with an overall total of 500 responses), focus groups (26) and interviews (17) and involved inputs from employers, apprentices, workplace mentors, consortia steering group representatives, apprenticeship managers, coordinating providers, collaborating providers, authorised officers, and industry group representatives.

Surveys in particular provided a mechanism to engage with a wider participant group than would have been feasible via focus groups and interviews, and offered a means to triangulate data on specific themes.

Key findings

The findings of the review reflect that, while there are some commonalities across the spectrum of established consortium-led apprenticeship programmes, there is no standardised approach to their establishment. The ways in which consortia have assembled to initiate a new apprenticeship and configure their governance, management and operating structures with education and training providers vary.

This is unsurprising, given the diverse industry and occupational profiles represented. Importantly, the review findings do not indicate that there is a singular approach that represents a ‘preferred’ or ‘best practice’ model for consortia-led apprenticeships. This is seen by the review team as a strength, reflecting that the model is adaptive and can facilitate a diversity of occupations and industries.

Future development

Overall, the review has been a success, especially considering the short timescale available to it. Its findings will help inform:

  • The evolution of the consortia-led apprenticeships by identifying examples of effective practice and opportunities for enhancement.
  • The planned migration of the craft apprenticeships to the new single apprenticeship model.
  • The revision of QQI’s statutory QA guidelines for apprenticeship, its external quality assurance procedures and its qualifications infrastructure for apprenticeship.

It also suggests that the guidance, support and facilitation needs of different consortia vary substantively and that flexible and bespoke supports from central agencies will be best placed to foster development and growth.

The final report and survey questionnaires are available below.