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MEPs call for removal of apprenticeship fees

3 December, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin, has welcomed the passing of a report today on in the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee that supports an end to education fees for apprentices.

Ms Boylan, who was the GUE/NGL negotiator on the report, 'Skills Policies for Fighting Youth Unemployment', successfully gained the support of all major parliamentary groups for an amendment that “urges the Alliance for Apprenticeships to promote accessibility of young people to apprenticeships by calling for the removal of barriers such as education fees for apprentices".

Speaking from Brussels, the Sinn Féin MEP said: “The broad support for this important report at committee stage is to be welcomed and I look forward to it being endorsed by the European Parliament as a whole in the near future.

“Today's outcome demonstrates that the Irish government is isolated in Europe in its insistence on forcing apprentices to pay fees. Anyone with an interest in reducing youth unemployment rejects this policy as illogical and counter-productive.

“The introduction by the Irish Government in the 2014 Budget of fees for apprentices has exacerbated youth unemployment in this state. It discourages young people from taking up apprenticeships in a state with 21% youth unemployment. No other Member State in the European Union imposes a tax on training.

“This fee annually brings in a mere €1.6 million to government coffers, but for individual apprentices it forces many out of their apprenticeships and deters other young people from taking one up.

"If they won't listen to young Irish apprentices on this issue, I urge Fine Gael and Labour to at least listen to their European colleagues.

"Other contributions I made to this report were to ensure that it calls for the maximum input from young people and their organisations in implementing and monitoring the Youth Employment Initiative, and to ensure that it calls for an end to abusive and exploitative practices in internships and traineeships." ENDS

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