Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West Michael Moynihan says the government needs to up its game when it comes to introducing and rolling out new apprenticeship schemes for students who want to go into a trade, or people needing to diversify their skills.

New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal that only 904 apprenticeship programmes were available in 2018. That compares with 23,000, which were available a decade ago.

Deputy Moynihan said, “While I appreciate that improvements have been made in the roll out of new apprenticeship schemes over the past three years, however, it comes following a period when the apprenticeship sector was on its knees. IN fact, these figures show that in 2016 there are as few as 79 apprenticeships on offer.

“Fianna Fáil has always understood the importance of apprenticeships – both in terms of offering opportunities to young people who do not want to take up a university course, but also in terms of ensuring that we have a skilled workforce available across a range of sectors. Apprenticeships should be are a key component of our education system, but unfortunately under this and the last government, they have been allowed to slide down the priority list.

“We regularly hear warnings from the hospitality sector that there is a severe shortage of chefs and other staff, the construction industry is having problems recruiting foremen, safety managers and officers and a range of other craft and building workers. These are all careers, which come through apprenticeship programmes, and until we increase the number of apprenticeships on offer, we will not fully address these shortages.

“My party published a new apprenticeship policy earlier this year, which aims to bring the apprenticeship system into the 21st century. Government needs to be more proactive and ensure that departments and State agencies such as the HSE, the OPW, the Department of Foreign Affairs and others provide apprenticeship places.

“We need to get serious about promoting and expanding apprenticeship programmes. Government must further expand and diversify options to engage students and plug major gaps in the economy”.