Minister Harris launches Ireland’s first Civil Engineering apprenticeships at ATU

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 Press Office
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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, launched new civil engineering programmes at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) recently, which will provide an opportunity for apprentices to earn and learn, and gain a higher education qualification.

These apprenticeships based at ATU’s Sligo campus are led by the Civil Engineering Apprenticeship Consortium made up of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI), Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), Uisce Éireann, the Local Government Management Association (LGMA), Engineers Ireland (Advisory capacity only) and Atlantic Technological University.

With continuing shortages of civil engineers being reported by industry, the new apprenticeship was established to entice more uptake into this profession. Ireland is in need of more civil engineers to successfully deliver Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan and Climate Action Plan 2019. According to the National Skills Bulletin 2023, the demand for civil engineers is increasing as a result of new practices in waste and water management to achieve a circular economy. In addition, the government’s Active Travel investment will require the upgrading of infrastructure to meet the needs of those walking and cycling etc. With these demands in mind, the Civil Engineering Apprenticeship Consortium formed, and along with Atlantic Technological University (ATU), have developed these two new apprenticeships in civil engineering.

Minister Harris said: “Today, we are announcing two really important programmes – a Level 6 Higher Certificate in Civil Engineering, which will take two years and a Level 7 Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering, which will take three years. This new mode of delivery is already attracting new entrants into the profession and satisfy a growing demand for learning through apprenticeship. And we have our first apprentices already. 44 apprentices were enrolled on the first phase of programmes - 6 at Level 6 and 38 at Level 7 in ATU Sligo.”

Speaking at the launch, Úna Parsons, Head of College, ATU Sligo added that “ATU is delighted to help address the lack of civil engineers in Ireland through the provision of new educational pathways. In collaboration with the national consortium, the HEA, the National Apprenticeship Office and SOLAS and other higher educational institutions, we are proud to have been chosen as the leading provider for this new apprenticeship in Civil Engineering. With a history of over 50 years delivering civil engineering education, coupled with being a national provider of online learning in Ireland, we leveraged off our national partners to get these strategic programmes launched, which have experienced a strong demand from industry.”

Eamonn Stapleton, President of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, an apprentice employer, and member of the Consortium said, “The civil engineering sector across all disciplines has, in the recent past, been struggling to find resources to deliver projects from design through to construction. The launch of these civil engineering apprenticeships in ATU Sligo has immediately provided resources, who within a short period, are contributing to their employers in their roles. This contribution will increase as they progress through their studies. As the programmes are launched in other institutions over time, the numbers participating and the positive impact for the industry could be a real game changer.”

Dr. Emma Britton from ATU Sligo and secretary of the consortium added that “apprentices are employed by a company for the duration of the two/three years, where they earn and learn on the job, and participate in online lectures with ATU Sligo for one day a week. The apprentices also get to engage with each other monthly during their on-campus lab days, facilitating a community of learning.”

Trevor McSharry, Head of Department of Civil Engineering and Construction at ATU Sligo highlighted that “additional programmes are also being progressed, which include a Level 8 and Level 9 in Civil Engineering. These apprenticeship programmes are currently at the early stage of development by the Civil Engineering Consortium with the first intake onto these programmes planned for September 2025, which will complete the progression offerings from Higher Certificate to Masters level.”

For further information about civil engineering apprenticeship opportunities or to find out how to become a registered employer, please visit Specific queries can be sent to