€20m to aid apprentices’ training

AROUND €20 million in funding is to be made available to assist unemployed and redundant apprentices’ training.

Announcing the package of schemes yesterday Tánaiste and Minister for Education Mary Coughlan said the initiatives were designed to help the unemployed maintain contact with the labour market and improve skills.

The Government is to pay wages of up to €450 to unemployed apprentices who are taken on by firms to complete their training. This is approximately €100 less than is currently paid on some Fás apprentice schemes, which is covered by the employer.

Up to 1,000 unemployed apprentices will now be able to take part in the supported placement scheme.

Ms Coughlan also gave details of several other initiatives, some of which were announced as part of the budget, including a new internship programme.

In this participants will take part in 12-month work placements. The schemes are to be administered by Fás.

Ms Coughlan added that she believed recently uncovered problems within Fás training schemes were not widespread or systematic.

Last week FETAC (the Further Education and Training Awards Council) put on hold the issuing of almost all certificates to Fás pending an investigation expected to be completed later this month into training standards.

The state’s other main training agency, Skillnets, is also currently undertaking an audit of private training providers, with the report expected to be released within weeks.

The plans were criticised by Fine Gael as “smoke and mirrors”, with a spokesman indicating that the Fás training allocation was cut by 15% and 15,000 places in the recent budget.

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