By Pádraig Hoare
The dearth of apprenticeships in traditional trades like plastering and tiling is “frightening”, the president of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has warned.
Barry O’Connor, who was speaking at the monthly Cork Chamber business breakfast, said access to apprenticeships for young talent was the “most restrictive in the country”.
He said 50% of all apprenticeships were for electricians, while plastering and tiling take-up was particularly low.
“The figures are actually frightening. The problem is that access to apprenticeship has the most restrictive access route in the country. You can’t get into a trade unless you are taken on by a tradesperson. The blockage isn’t the institutes.
“Working with Solas and the Higher Education Authority, we have put on various programmes for people who may have been halfway through a trade, who then maybe left for Australia because there was no more work. We’ve put on repeat and refresher courses so people can get through and finish off their qualification.”
Mr O’Connor said there was €2m worth of equipment for apprentices to use in CIT, saying the institute could cater for “everyone from apprenticeships to PhDs.”
Some 70% of students in CIT come from the Cork region, with Kerry the next highest reach, Mr O’Connor said.
He said Government funding for the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects was “finally turning the corner”, adding that more girls’ schools needed to offer chemistry, physics, and applied maths.