Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has accused the government of continuing to fail apprentices over a year into the pandemic.
Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“Half of all apprentices are on a waiting list to access the state provided training they need to advance in their apprenticeship.
“I have been highlighting these issues with the department for months. Despite assurances that action would be taken, waiting lists continue to spiral out of control.
“Right now, 9,071 apprentices are waiting to access off-the-job training. Many more an enrolled in course that they are not able to complete.
“Apprentices I have spoken with feel abandoned. 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.
“Covid has seriously disrupted training but the government has had sufficient time to put measures and additional capacity in place to at least mitigate the situation. However, we are seeing waiting list continue to grow.
“This is not solely the result of Covid. A lack of interest and investment in apprenticeship training predates the pandemic. This is evident in the fact that 3,651 apprentices have been waiting over a year to access their course.
“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.
“Every one of these apprentices represent tradespeople and other professionals sorely needed for the post-pandemic recovery.”