An innovative new plan to operate the first ever Dáil apprenticeship scheme, proposed by Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne, is now being considered by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.
Deputy Byrne, Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Education and Skills, said the Oireachtas could offer apprenticeships in the areas of parliamentary affairs, public administration and political communications.
Deputy Byrne said: “The Dáil and Seanad Éireann will provide a unique and specialised learning environment for any person wishing to pursue a career in public service or politics.
“The Apprenticeship Council has called for ideas for new training initiatives, and an opportunity exists for non-graduates, of all ages, to work with TDs, Senators, political parties, and House of the Oireachtas staff.
“I have been informed by the Ceann Comhairle that the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission is considering the proposal, and several commission members have told me they support the initiative. An apprenticeship scheme in the Oireachtas will not only widen opportunities for people wishing to pursue alternative apprenticeships, it also opens up a new pool of potential talent, which up until now has remained untapped.
“Solas and the Apprenticeship Council are open to this idea, and opportunities need to be developed for people who would like to work in Leinster House, but don’t have a third-level qualification.
“An apprenticeship programme for positions in the Houses of the Oireachtas would have a transformative affect. It will open up access to people who are currently under-represented across the two Houses, and it will boost the prestige of the apprenticeship system itself.
“The new parliamentary apprenticeships would be developed in partnership with a recognised third-level institution, and validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.
“The Houses of Parliament in Britain already run apprenticeship and placements that offer practical on-the-job training. We should be doing the same in Ireland by providing access to people who don’t have a relevant degree, or political connections, to work in the Dáil and Seanad, thus enabling them to pursue further education or career progression in public affairs.”