A CORK TD has accused the government of failing to address a crisis in the apprenticeship system, with more than 1,600 apprentices on waiting lists in the Cork area.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh O’ Laoghaire said that over 67% of all apprentices (13,440) are now on a waiting list to access off-site training, according to figures released to Sinn Féin.
Of those apprentices unable to gain access, 1,643 are on waiting lists from the Cork Education Training Board (ETB) area, he said.
The Cork South-Central TD said he was “shocked” to hear that there were over 10,000 on waiting lists when the issue was raised in the Dáil earlier this month.
“Figures released to Sinn Féin show that the Minister knew then that the figure was in fact 13,440, including over 1,600 from the Cork ETB area,” Mr O’ Laoghaire said.
“That means that over 67 percent of all apprentices are now waiting to access off-site training – training that is essential to completing and progress through an apprenticeship.”
Mr O’ Laoghaire said a number of apprentices “in despair at the situation” have been in contact with him.
“Despite repeated assurances that action would be taken, waiting lists continue to spiral out of control," he said.
"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.
"No other cohort of student are treated in this way.”
While there is much discussion about the safe return of further and higher education to campuses, Mr Ó Laoghaire accused the Government of allowing the apprenticeship system to grind to a halt.
He added that 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 and training they need.
“Every one of these apprentices represent tradespeople and other professionals sorely needed now and for the post-pandemic recovery," he added.