The Connect Trade Union has voted to seek to increase the number of women taking up apprenticeships in the trades.
The decision's been taken unanimously by delegates to launch a campaign at its Biennial Delegates Conference in Limerick City.
The union will work to promote working within the trades as a realistic and sustainable career path for women.
It says it's crucial that local authorities once again start taking on apprentices as many of their employees qualified in the trades are now retiring.
Connect Trade Union Assistant General Secretary, Brian Nolan, said: “Apprenticeships are fundamental to the future of the trades in Ireland. Connect Trade Union is working with the Government and other stakeholders to establish and develop apprenticeships. These cannot just be a way to employ people to do work on lesser terms and conditions but must be a clear path to developing skill sets which are essential to their chosen trades.”
He added: “Such apprenticeships must be gender neutral. It is essential that women feel that they can have a career in the trades, and that is an issue our union is dedicated to advancing in the coming months and years.”
Connect Trade Union member and Kilkenny County Council employee, Aisling Stone, said: “The motion calls upon the union to work with like-minded organisations to promote and campaign for a greater uptake of apprenticeships by women. The union will also work to promote working within the trades as a realistic and sustainable career path for women.”
She added: “I am a painter and decorator. I was the last apprentice taken on by Kilkenny County Council and that was 25 years ago. It is crucial that local authorities once again start taking on apprentices as many of their employees qualified in the trades are now retiring. It is equally important that women are encouraged to take up these apprenticeships. When I began my apprenticeship there were women apprentices in various trades around the country, from sheet-metal working to carpentry, we need to return to a similar situation.”