Sinn Féin Mayo TD, Rose Conway-Walsh has accused the government of leaving apprentices in limbo throughout the pandemic.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Conway-Walsh said:
“There are 6,928 apprentices currently waiting to complete their off-the-job training. That is more than a third of all apprentices.
“This doesn’t even count the apprentices that have seen their practicals and exams continuously put back.
“They have all been left in the dark about how and when they will get the training they need to advance and qualify in their trade.
“Apprentices need to be provided with pathways to complete their apprenticeships within the specified time.
“Unlike other students who have seen their studies disrupted, as things stand apprentices cannot advance without completing their phases of off-the-job training.
“This has serious implications for not only their educations, but also their income. Through no fault of their own, many apprentices will be trapped on apprentice wages for years longer than they should.
“Despite the amazing efforts of administrators and teaching staff across the country, apprentices are being badly let down when it comes to getting the education they need.
“This issue predates Covid and is one of the key areas in which the government is mismanaging the apprenticeship programme. They have consistently failed to put in place the necessary training capacity. This is evident in the fact that over 1,800 apprentices have been waiting over a year to access their course.
“Many apprentices have been working through lockdown and yet are not being told anything about when their off-site education will resume and how they will make up for lost time in order to qualify in their trade.
“Now we are facing a backlog of training that needs to be done to allow apprentices to become qualified tradespeople and other forms of professionals.
“The government must bring forward a plan to ramp up training capacity immediately. Government silence on the issue must end.”