Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Construction engineering, 5.3 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES

Publication Details

Presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), School of Surveying and Construction Management, College of Engineering and Built Environment, Technological University Dublin, 2022.


The construction industry in Ireland is crucial to the national economy, not just in terms of economic output, but as a major provider of employment. The construction labour market is a complex concatenation of professions relying upon adequate skills supply. Apprenticeships play a critical role in future skills provision and are thus vital to the successful implementation of strategic government targets such as the National Development Plan 2021-2030. However, the extant employer-led model of skills engagement is prone to labour market failure given the cyclical elasticity of the industry. Nonetheless, there is a paucity of research into apprenticeship engagement in an Irish context.

This research addresses the perceptible gap in existing knowledge relating to apprenticeship education and training in Ireland and provides a unique insight from a multi-stakeholder perspective, to address barriers to engagement in training. This exploratory study — mixed methods in design — concentrated predominantly on quantitative investigations of each stakeholder cohort. Additionally, this research is a socio-ecological study, representing the first of its kind in Irish apprenticeship research. In utilising the socio-ecological model, the individual stakeholder strata (Apprentices, Employers, Lecturers and State Agencies) represent the micro, meso, exo and macro levels ecologically.

Key trends are established based upon a posteriori experiences of stakeholders and thus, a priori deduction is achieved via meta-analysis. The research findings show that the prevailing issues as described by stakeholder cohorts transcend all levels, namely, the issues of skills supply, employment opportunities, educational standards, and the societal standing of apprenticeship. Most importantly, in addition to defining the drivers and barriers of apprenticeship, this research reveals how the Irish construction industry is facing a skills crisis. Employers report a disinclination to invest in skills due to the onerous obligations involved with training and the unsuitable structure of apprenticeship.

The study provides an important contribution to knowledge in the field of apprenticeship, thus reducing the deficit of existing research in this area. The final recommendations emanating from the research are presented as a set of ameliorating mechanisms (framework) by which to improve apprenticeship engagement in the construction industry in Ireland.


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.