Senator Kathryn Reilly calls for removal of unfair apprenticeship fees
Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has today reiterated the call of her colleague MEP Lynn Boylan for Minister Jan O’ Sullivan to end the practice of charging apprenticeship fees, a measure introduced by Ruairí Quinn.
Senator Reilly said:
“Ireland is the only country in Europe that has such apprenticeship fees. It is completely wrong of Fine Gael and Labour to be charging these fees.
“The European Commission has confirmed that the Irish Government could use the Youth Employment Initiative Funds to cover the €1.6m that is currently being charged in fees to apprentices. Therefore, the question must be asked why Minister O Sullivan is choosing to abandon our apprentices.
“The introduction of apprenticeship fees by this Government in Budget 2014 exacerbated youth unemployment in Ireland and caused many young people to leave and take up apprenticeships in other countries; they act as a barrier for many people undertaking apprenticeships.
“With these apprenticeship fees in mind one should then assess what this government has done for young people under the age of 34 during their tenure. Since assuming office this government has overseen a reduction of 120,700 young people under the age of 34 in the labour force, and in the same period they oversaw a reduction of 50,400 young people (under 34) in employment.
“This measure saves the government the paltry amount of €1.6m annually but contradicts the Irish Government’s pledge to support the Youth Guarantee to ensure young people are in employment, education or training.
“Such fees discourage young people from entering apprenticeships in a state with 19.2% youth unemployment. Furthermore, those who do undertake apprenticeships start out on low pay so the charging of fees further reduces their income. It is a completely unfair charge, especially when no other Member State imposes a tax on training.
"The Government talk a good talk on getting people back to work, helping young people into employment and creating jobs. But, the very presence of these fees is a blatant barrier to the ability of people to get into trades, jobs and careers. Apprenticeships are particularly important for young people in rural Ireland where there is scarce FDI and influx of big companies, and employment hinges on SMEs and trades.
“It is time for Jan O’Sullivan to revoke this unfair fee and start supporting young people.”