Number of female apprentices has risen five-fold since 2016

Minister says apprentice training ‘Cinderella’ of career options but an exciting job choice

Just 2 per cent of students take up apprenticeships and only 2 per cent of them are female, but “it is growing substantially” Minister of State John Halligan told the Dáil. Photograph: iStock

Just 2 per cent of students take up apprenticeships and only 2 per cent of them are female, but “it is growing substantially” Minister of State John Halligan told the Dáil. Photograph: iStock

 

The number of women taking up apprenticeships has increased dramatically in the past three years, but from a very low base, the Dáil has heard.

Just 2 per cent of students take up apprenticeships and only 2 per cent of them are female, but “it is growing substantially” Minister of State John Halligan said.

In 2015 there were 16 female apprentices, which rose to 60 in 2016. It more than doubled to 145 last year and currently 323 women are participating, out of a total of 4,655 registered apprentices. Mr Halligan said that figure represented a 317 per cent increase on the 2010 low of just 1,024 apprentices during the recession.

He was responding to Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne who said that the 2 per cent female participation is the “most unbalanced gender statistic in this country”.

Mr Byrne hit out at the Government’s development of apprenticeship schemes and in a private member’s motion called for intensified promotion of these schemes with the creation of a national apprenticeship week and the establishment of a taskforce to encourage a limited form of training for transition year students.

The Meath East TD said there should be a mix of training schemes offered by State bodies and that the Oireachtas should offer parliamentary apprenticeships.

He accused the Government of taking a hands off approach to such training and he said that of the 1,500 registrations for new business-led apprenticeships targeted by the government for 2018, only a quarter have started. He said the targets for 2017 fell shorty by 58 per cent.

Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor said the State was involved in apprenticeships and the Revenue Commissioners had taken on 10 trainees in Limerick.

Such training is an exciting option for many young people but “they are the Cinderella of career options and are not seen by many young people and their parents as viable or attractive”.

The Government had a “big sell job” to do to encourage apprenticeships but she said women were strongly represented in the financial and hospitality sector trades but less so in craft-based apprenticeships.

A bursary of just over €2,600 was available to eligible employers to take on women in craft-based traineeships.

There are currently 42 different types of apprenticeships available with new ones in bio-pharma and technology analyst and technicians launched in the last few days.

Mr Halligan said the Government had increased the 2019 budget allocation for apprenticeship training by 16 per cent to €142 million and the first apprentices in industrial electrical engineering had received their degrees.