Fianna Fáil has accused the Government of discouraging participation in State apprenticeship schemes by hitting participants with €540 in student fees.
The new student ‘contribution’ for FÁS apprentices, which was introduced in Budget 2014, kicked in this week.
Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has described it as “an extremely short-sighted and anti-jobs measure” that will discourage job seekers from up-skilling.
“This is another anti-jobs measure that slipped under the radar when Budget 2014 was announced in October. From the beginning of this month, job seekers who chose to up-skill and train under a State apprenticeship scheme will now be hit with hefty student fees,” explained Deputy McConalogue.
“The bottom line is that many of job-seekers who take this leap simply cannot afford to hand over an estimated €540 in third level fees for the 10 week period that they attend classes at one of the Institutes of Technology. These fees are on top of the other costs associated with attending college and committing to a multi-annual apprenticeship programme.
“There is no doubt that the additional cost will prevent many job seekers from entering these highly valuable apprenticeship programmes. Until now the State has covered their student contribution fees in order to encourage job seekers to up-skill, gain valuable training and experience, and get back to work.
“It makes no sense to penalise people who commit to such extensive training programmes that result in real jobs. The very last thing we want to do is make it more expensive for job seekers to leave the Live Register and get the skills they need to get back to work. It’s an extremely short-sighted measure that must be reconsidered.”