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Sinn Féin to meet CITB and FSB over concerns about Apprenticeships

28 October, 2005

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA will hold separate meetings with the Construction Industry Training Board and the Federation of Small Businesses to discuss the disarray that epitomises Apprenticeship Programmes at the present moment.

Michael Ferguson has discussed the matter with a number of Training Organisations and the Further Education Sector and has called on the Government to give leadership by establishing a Government Insurance Plan to support small businesses and a strategy that has at its core a Government driven Partnership with Employers that addresses Insurance and also identifies the projected needs for the Trades and Vocational Sector ensuring adequate placements for Apprenticeships.

Commenting upon his round of meetings Michael Ferguson said,

"The Construction Industry Training Board and the Federations of Small Businesses are key players in the delivery of any Skills Strategy.

"It is clear from Government Consultation Papers that the Government has no idea of what skills and trades are required.

"Small Businesses can not afford to meet rising insurance costs. Apprentices on a Job Skills rate of £40 are not enticed onto hostile building sites in all weathers. Trainers cannot find placements for Modern Apprenticeship schemes and this year the Lisburn Institute for Further and Higher Education cancelled an entire course for Electrical Installation because while the young people were willing no placements could be found.

"This is a sad state of affairs for all concerned. We want to support Small Businesses, Training Organisations and Apprentices and doing so will support our local economy. This round of meetings are to discuss further the difficulties faced by these key stakeholders.

"But the Government also needs to get real with a real budget that supports economic development for young people leaving schools and colleges and small businesses wanting to develop by employing trainees and all of this needs partnership and an appropriate investment strategy." ENDS

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