Drastic change of tack needed on apprenticeships – Kathleen Funchion TD
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Education Kathleen Funchion TD has said that a drastic change of tack was needed, and much wider choice was necessary when addressing the area apprenticeships if uptake was to increase.
Speaking this afternoon in the Dáil chamber on the issues of apprenticeships, the Carlow/Kilkenny TD said:
“We in Sinn Féin have been calling for greater investment in apprenticeships, and for a wider choice of apprenticeship courses pointed towards the skill shortages being felt, particularly in the construction and hospitality industries.
“We’ve also been calling for government to address the gender imbalance and the virtual absence of women applying for and taking up an apprenticeship. Only a shocking 2% of apprentices this year have been women.
“We’ve consistently called for the inclusion of opportunities for people with disabilities, to be treated fairly and be offered the choice to take up an apprenticeship in area they are interested and choose.
“We allocated €32.8 million in our Alternative Budget 2019, which would provide for 4,411 additional apprenticeships and the development of 10 extra courses next year alone. This compares to just €20 million the government announced for 2019.
“Last month The National Youth Council of Ireland said that 8,000 young people in Ireland have been unemployed for 12 months or more.
“There is huge concern about the 7,817 young people under 26 who are now long-term unemployed.
“The entrance criteria for some apprenticeships now require qualifications to a certain level in some subjects. This does nothing to help the young person who has the motivation and aptitude for a trade but cannot meet these entrance criteria.
“The government consistently talks about encouraging more women to return to the workforce and creating initiatives that will do this. It’s well known that childcare fees in Ireland are well above both EU and OECD averages.
“For a woman with a child to upskill, or re-enter the job market the cost of childcare is often the number one barrier. I strongly urge the Minister for Education and Skills to take these factors into account in any revision of apprenticeships schemes.
“Costs are heavily subsidised in other countries and the lack of affordable childcare in Ireland has contributed to low rates of participation by women in the workforce or in the take up of further education.”