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Anderson welcomes Empey's commitment to apprenticeships review

30 January, 2008 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA has welcomed a commitment from Employment and Learning Minister Reg Empey to review the provision of apprentice training here.

"I met with the Minister today (Wednesday) following a number of concerns which we raised on the floor of the Assembly regarding the provision of apprentice training in Derry," Ms. Anderson commented.

"We are particularly concerned at the decline in young people securing manufacturing-related apprenticeships in Derry and we have publicly called for a review of the Training for Success delivery scheme.

"We had a very positive engagement with the Minister and I acknowledge that he has inherited many of these problems and we all accept that Training for Success has the potential to deliver.

"However, it is clear that the system is far from perfect and the Minister accepts this. In fact, his Department has already begun reviewing and monitoring the scheme to ensure that it does deliver to its maximum potential."

Ms. Anderson also urged local employers to play as full a role as possible in encouraging a greater take-up of apprenticeships.

"Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of employers who are prepared to take on apprentices and that is a major problem because young people are finding themselves unable to get onto Level III training schemes because they don't have an employer to sponsor them.

"I understand why many contractors are reluctant to take on apprentices because it is a big financial commitment and for many struggling businesses it can literally mean the difference between making a profit or a loss.

"The problem is particularly acute in Derry where many of the contractors are very small enterprises and they just don't have the capacity to take on additional staff without some form of assistance.

"The Minister has assured me that he will examine the employer incentives to see what can be done to encourage more contractors to take on apprentices. Again, that is to be welcomed.

"But the employers also need to realise that it is in their best interests to take on apprentices. There is a massive amount of potential work coming online in Derry through projects such as Ilex and local contractors will need to have a ready pool of skilled labour in place if they are to take advantage of that." ENDS

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