TUI urges Government to boost apprenticeships through better support

By piofficer, Wednesday, 27th September 2023 | 0 comments

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is calling for Government to boost quality apprenticeships in Ireland through appropriate funding, support and information campaigns.  

The call comes after the hugely successful WorldSkills Ireland live event took place in Dublin, attracting thousands of students and showcasing apprenticeships and skills with live demonstrations and competitions. 

Comments from TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie:  

'Apprenticeships are not merely vocational training programmes -  they are pathways to personal growth, professional excellence, and economic prosperity. However, there are critical challenges we must address to ensure that these opportunities are accessible to all and that they receive the recognition they deserve.'

Difficulties securing employers  

'One of the most significant barriers faced by aspiring apprentices is the challenge of securing employers. We know that many young individuals, bursting with potential and eager to learn, face the frustrating reality of being unable to find a suitable employer. This is a very real concern that we must tackle head-on. The government must work with businesses, large and small, to encourage and incentivise them to take on more apprentices. These young individuals represent our future workforce, and their potential must not be overlooked or underestimated.' 

'Geographical barriers are another obstacle that many potential apprentices face. It is unjust that where you live can determine your access to educational opportunities. To address this, we must establish apprenticeship programmes that are accessible nationwide, no matter how remote the location. The use of satellite campuses could give every Irish citizen equal access to quality apprenticeship programmes.' 

Apprentices must be supported financially  

'Financial constraints, too, often deter talented individuals from pursuing apprenticeships, such as earning less than the minimum wage in their first year. The cost of travel, materials, and living expenses can also be prohibitive for many. It is our responsibility as a society to provide financial support, such as scholarships, grants, and affordable or zero interest loans, to ensure that no one is left behind due to financial hardship.' 

'Accommodation challenges are yet another obstacle that some apprentices face. Many have to relocate to access their desired programmes, and finding affordable, safe housing can be daunting. Collaboration with housing providers, educational institutions and local communities is crucial to address this issue effectively.' 

Tackling gender disparity  

'We must confront the gender disparity that persists in many apprenticeship fields. It is unacceptable that some apprenticeships are seen as traditionally male or female roles. We must actively encourage and support all individuals, regardless of gender, to pursue their interests and talents, breaking down stereotypes and ensuring equal opportunities.' 

Students with additional educational needs 

'Additionally, we must ensure that apprenticeships are accessible to students with additional educational needs. Every young person deserves their opportunity, and we must provide the necessary resources and support to make this a reality.' 

Lack of public sector apprenticeships a missed opportunity  

'The lack of public sector apprenticeships is a missed opportunity. Public services are the backbone of our society, and we should be offering apprenticeships in these vital areas, just as much as in the private sector.' 

Parity of esteem  

'We must work toward achieving parity of esteem between apprenticeships and traditional college courses. Both pathways are valuable and should be regarded as equally valid options for young people to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals.' 

'In conclusion, our mission is clear: we must break down the barriers that stand in the way of accessible and equitable apprenticeships in Ireland. We must collaborate with employers, educators, and communities to create a system where all individuals, regardless of their background, gender, or location, can access and thrive in apprenticeship programmes.'