CORK County Council has agreed to write to SOLAS and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, calling for the acceleration in the number of apprentice mechanics through the system to alleviate the current shortage of qualified mechanics.
The motion, which was brought before last Monday’s full council meeting by Fine Gael councillor John Paul O’Shea, received unanimous support from his fellow councillors.
Cllr O’Shea said: “I have been contacted by a number of private organisations who are finding it very difficult to recruit mechanics at the moment. In fairness to SOLAS, they are trying their best to try and accelerate all the apprenticeships through, such as mechanics, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. We are out of Covid now and we need to allocate the resources to ensure we get them qualified and out with papers as quickly as possible,” he added.
“There is a huge need for HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) mechanics at the moment. Several HGV companies have contacted me saying they cannot get apprenticeships or fully qualified mechanics to work in their system.
"There is a huge shortage of them nationwide. On the apprenticeship website there are currently five types of mechanics apprenticeships that are available through SOLAS.
“There needs to be a wider government response in relation to apprenticeships,” stated Cllr O’Shea.
“We do need to create an urgency with SOLAS and with the department to try and get as many apprenticeships completed and out there into the system as quickly as possible. We also need SOLAS to outline how many mechanics they are taking in on an annual basis and how can we increase it over time,” he added.
Independent councillor Frank Roche seconded the motion, saying: “It is an awful problem. In the agriculture garages, they can’t get anybody for the work.”
Fellow Independent councillor John Healy added: “We must think outside the box, maybe excluding the apprentice mechanics from tax during the period of their apprenticeship.”