Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the government to increase the number of people undertaking apprenticeships, not just to give young people more tertiary education options but also to equip Ireland with the skilled workers needed for growing and emerging industries.
The Sinn Féin TD was speaking after the launch of the Joint Oireachtas Committee’s Report on ‘The Role of Apprenticeships and Work Permits in Addressing Ireland’s Skills Needs’.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“Apprenticeship programmes offer a unique avenue to earn, learn, gain valuable work experience, and work towards an internationally recognised qualification and a rewarding career.
“Historically the apprenticeship system in Ireland was limited and underutilised, but it can offer governments an opportunity to both reduce the number of people who remain on the live register and tackle the growing skills shortage across a number of industries.
“Ireland is currently suffering from a significant shortage of skilled workers, so it is imperative we increase the range and number of people undertaking apprenticeships.
“The Oireachtas Committee report highlights that better communication between parents and guidance counsellors is needed to highlight the advantages of apprenticeships. This is essential as parents have a significant role in helping a young person choose their next step in life after sitting the Leaving Cert.
“Unfortunately, in Ireland too many young people feel that they need to go down the college route instead of considering starting an apprenticeship that could be more suited to their own particular skills. Apprenticeship training can allow an individual to earn, to learn, and to gain valuable work experience while working towards a qualification. The other positive is that it also helps equip Ireland with the highly skilled, well paid, and motivated workers it needs for growing and newly emerging industries in the coming years.
“Recommendation 11 in this report highlights the need to take action to increase the female participation rate in apprenticeships, which remains far too low. At the moment, just 341 women are undertaking an apprenticeship, out of an apprenticeship population of some 15,373. This is far too low and needs to be addressed
“This report also identifies the need to take action to put in place supports for people with a disability to partake in an apprenticeship programme. Information received from SOLAS shows that their records indicate that just 371 people with an impairment were engaged in apprenticeships in 2018. This is again, an unacceptably low rate of participation and needs immediate attention.”
“Apprenticeships in the construction and motor industries are highly developed and well regarded in Ireland, but we need to expand this success to other areas including green energy, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and the financial services.
“The government have proposed expanding the apprenticeship system but their progress to date has been painfully slow and goes nowhere near meeting the challenge facing young people on the live register. We need to think big and differently in order to give greater choices to young people. Enhanced apprenticeships programmes have to be part of any solution.”