Sinn Féin European candidate Matt Carthy has called on the Minister for Education to overturn the decision to impose a fee of over €800 on apprentices who attend a ten week course in Institutes of Technology during the course of their apprenticeship.
Councillor Carthy said:
“Budget 2014 saw the introduction of a flat-rate fee for apprentices for attending Institutes of Technology during the course of their apprenticeship.
"Since the announcement, a large number of apprentices have received notification that when they attend the institutes in January 2014, they will be expected to hand over €833 (which is approximately a third of the annual student charge) for their ten weeks of training. This comes on top of the over €200 apprentices pay in respect of exam fees.
“This charge is not only mean-spirited, it is also nonsensical. Apprentices are not students, they are workers in industry. They contribute to the economy by paying income tax on their earnings. They pay PRSI contributions and USC contributions. On top of this, apprentices cannot avail of student grants, nor can they avail of tax relief on the charges imposed on them. It is also a fact that most will at some point over the course of their apprenticeship be paid under the statutory minimum wage.
“The reality for apprentices in this day and age is a world apart from the image of the 16 year old just out of school. Most apprentices range from 20 to 30 years of age, many of whom have families and who have to deal with the challenges of a recession which ravaged the industries to which they are now attempting to apply their trade.
“I am extending my support to apprentices and to the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) in their campaign to have this measure overturned. I am calling on the Minister for Education, and the government, to do the right thing and the responsible thing and rescind this decision to impose these crippling fees on young workers.”