30. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to introduce technical apprenticeships for aircraft maintenance; the number of apprenticeships the Defence Forces offer across disciplines; his further plans to increase this number or introduce more in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20436/18 asked on 10 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Currently the only Apprenticeships within the Defence Forces are Apprentice Aircraft Technicians in the Air Corps. Aircraft Technicians provide the maintenance and servicing of Air Corps aircraft, their engines, systems, equipment and weapons. Aircraft Trainee Technicians hold the rank of Apprentice during their training.

Competitions for the Aircraft Trainee Technician Programme are generally run on an annual basis and successful applicants complete a programme of military and technical training in Casement Aerodrome and with the Dublin Institute of Technology culminating in a Bachelor Engineering Technology Degree in Military Aviation Technology.

While 22 apprentices were inducted in 2017, there is a requirement to fill further vacancies. A competition in this regard was launched on 2 March 2018 and will run until 25 May 2018. It is anticipated that some 28 apprentices will be inducted from the current competition which is the maximum capacity for apprentice training due to aviation regulations.