A CORK Opposition TD has urged the Government to “act urgently” to help apprentices hit by the cost of living crisis.
Sinn Féin TD for Cork South-Central, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire was speaking following the publication of an apprenticeship survey carried out by the party which gathered the views of almost 350 apprentices about their experiences of pay and working conditions.
According to the survey, almost 90% of apprentices who responded reported being under financial pressure.
“Sinn Féin have launched the results of the party’s survey of apprentices. 341 apprentices took part and shared their experiences, including dozens in Cork," Mr Ó Laoghaire said.
“Many are under huge financial pressure and cannot afford essential things such as petrol, buying groceries or putting the heating on,” the Cork TD added.
“Their stories are shocking and show that Government must act urgently to stand up for apprentices.
“One mechanical automation apprentice in Cork told us that they have taken on extra overtime as well as working a second job just to get by.
“Apprentices do highly skilled work in much-needed industries including construction.
“Their work is vital for ensuring major housing projects including retrofitting can go ahead both here in Cork and across the State,” he continued.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said that many apprentices are on very low pay, often below minimum wage, which is putting people under huge financial pressure.
“As many people told us, travel and accommodation grants simply don’t match the real costs these bring for apprentices.
“This means they are being put under huge financial pressure by rising costs.
“84% of apprentices told Sinn Féin that they have had to cut down on essentials such as buying groceries or turning the heating on.
“72% report having had to take on debt since the start of their apprenticeship.
“Almost half said they are worried they may have to give up their apprenticeship, simply because they cannot afford to keep going.
“This would be devastating for a range of industries and would have a major impact on construction and retrofitting in particular,” he said.
Based on the findings of this survey, Mr Ó Laoghaire said Sinn Féin will bring forward additional targeted supports and reform proposals as part of its alternative budget.
“The Government should listen to apprentices and ensure they take real steps, including in Budget 2023, to invest in young people and the craft apprenticeship model,” Mr Ó Laoghaire said.