Lack of female apprenticeships ‘glaring weakness’

Lack of female apprenticeships ‘glaring weakness’

By Pádraig Hoare

The small numbers of women within the Irish apprenticeship system is a “glaring weakness”, an EU report on the future of manufacturing within the bloc has found.

The report by Eurofound, the Dublin-based EU agency tasked with examining working conditions, was carried out here, as well as in Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the US, and Australia.

It examined the wider economic and labour market context in which the national apprenticeship system operates within the seven countries, as well as the links between education, training and industrial policies. The national apprenticeship system, including the regulatory framework, the governance structure, and financing was also researched.

The report on Ireland said that while positive measures have been taken since the recession in a reform of the system, there was a large gap when it came to women in apprenticeships.

“One glaring weakness of the Irish apprenticeship system is the extremely low participation of young women, and it is clear that this extension of types of apprenticeship will in itself not deal with the challenge of increasing female participation. Other measures will be needed, beyond the grant of €2,667 for each female apprentice recruited to a designated craft apprenticeship.” 

Relatively quick progress has been made in upskilling apprentices in the changes in technology, but needs to be maintained into the future, Eurofound said.

“In terms of apprenticeship training, it is however important to note that future skills requirements have been identified, and the sector has moved (relatively) quickly to revise designated craft apprenticeships in the light of technological developments, for example for mechanical fitting, and propose some new apprenticeships, notably polymer processing, engineer and manufacturing technician.

“These developments will only bear fruit, of course, if economic growth and a certain economic optimism are maintained,” the report said.

More parents and students combined needed to be persuaded of the career prospects after an apprenticeship, according to Eurofound, as well as more commitment from employers to invest in apprentices.

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