Sinn Féin - On Your Side

End exploitation of young people and deliver the Construction Skills we need

7 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA has said that young people across the Six Counties have been failed by the Construction industry and the failure of the Department of Employment & Learning to ensure that the Industry meets its own skills needs.

Commenting on the current debate on the future Skills needs for the local economy Mr Ferguson said:

" The British Government has recently set a target of delivering 10,000 Apprenticeships by 2010 and the Business Alliance just last week also told us that we need 141,000 more jobs in the economy by 2015.

"However, the practice of setting targets without incentives and bad practices within the private sector and from the Department of Employment has led to the exploitation of young people in the Construction industry.

"It has been standard practice by successive British Governments to allow young school leavers to work for a shameful £40 per week for two years on hostile Building sites with poor monitoring and evaluation of their working conditions and training. It has also been common practice for many Private sector employers to then dump the young people in their third apprenticeship year because they would have been required to pay them a wage.

" Tragically for both the young people and the local economy the ritual dumping of young people in their third year means that young people lose their Training Credit and their chance to complete their Apprenticeship. The result is a lack of young people with the skills the construction industry and our economy needs.

"This situation is compounded by developers, contractors and sub contractors who see themselves as self employed entrepreneurs. They do not see themselves as employers with any responsibility to promote, plan or pay for skills for their future business needs. Successive British governments have failed miserably to regulate the delivery of the skills needs of our local economy and yet talk about the need for schools to work in partnership with the Further Education sector but do not practice what they preach with the business sector." ENDS

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