There is a real need to take education out “beyond the walls of the universities", Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has said, as he announced a new capital programme for apprenticeships and further education training courses.
The expansion of apprenticeships and training programmes will pave the way for an intake of more than 600 people each year.
Mr Harris said there was a huge job of work to get the message across that there are many well-paid jobs in the trades.
For every penny going into universities, matching funding will go to apprenticeship and further education training programmes, Mr Harris said.
Changing the conversation in schools is the first job in a cultural shift, Mr Harris said, and this year’s CAO forms for the first time offered apprenticeships and not just university options.
Mr Harris was speaking in Tralee where he announced an €8.5m package for apprenticeship buildings and a doubling of apprenticeship numbers at the Kerry ETB Colleges in both Tralee and Listowel.
At the Tralee Monavalley campus, a new 21,000 sq ft apprenticeship training building will allow for an intake of 350 learners every year in carpentry, joinery, electrical, solar and other renewable energy installation courses.
If the necessary cultural change does not happen, there will be a shortage of skills, including house building and retrofitting skills, Mr Harris said.
“It’s a huge job of work we have to do and one I am really committed to doing. The first thing is to change the conversation in our schools,” he said, referring to the CAO's move beyond university-only options.
The range of apprenticeships is also being expanded to include areas such as accounting technician and farm management.