Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Niall Collins TD has slammed the Government for its abysmal support of the apprenticeship sector as new figures show that both traditional and modern apprenticeship numbers aren’t up to scratch.

Deputy Collins was commenting as new figures show that new apprenticeship registrations ran 58% behind target in 2017 and that just 1% of all apprentices in Ireland are female.

“These latest revelations underline the Government’s shocking failure to deliver on apprenticeship uptake as part of its Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeships.  Of the 800 targeted registrations for new consortia-led apprenticeships in 2017, only 335 starts actually took place, a disgraceful 42% success rate”, said Deputy Collins.

“Failing to meet their own targets that are low in and of themselves, is a shocking indictment of Fine Gael’s record.

“Women are still woefully represented in the apprenticeship sector, and in particular among traditional construction based apprenticeships. Of the total apprentice population of 12,849 at the end of last year, just 151 were female – this equates to a dismal 1 per cent.

“As I have said previously, the current low take-up of apprenticeships in bricklaying (121), plastering (63) and zero in floor and wall tilling will create a massive skills shortage. A lack of apprentices will jeopardise progress in most construction projects and will end the Government’s hope of building 25,000 houses a year.

“No doubt we will see some attempt from the Government to spin away these problems, but there is a crisis coming down the tracks, and the sooner the Government wakes up to the problem, the better for our country,” concluded Collins.