Employers will be paid more to take on women and lone parents as apprentices under a new plan aimed at boosting the number of women working in trades.
Under a new scheme, all employers will get a €3,000 grant for every apprentice employed, but they will receive increased State funding if they take on a woman.
On top of this, an extra bonus grant of almost €3,000 will be given to employers who hire female apprentice plasterers, plumbers, butchers, mechanics, sous chefs, industrial electrical engineers, and other trades which are currently 80% male or more.
While the popularity of apprenticeships is increasing amongst women, they still only account for 5.2% of intake.
The number of apprenticeships has expanded greatly in recent years with almost 60 programmes now available across a range of sectors including electrical, finance, ICT, biopharma, recruitment, and property services. However, just 1,000 women are currently enrolled in this type of training.
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, who is due to publish a five-year apprenticeship action plan today, said he wants to see more diversity in the system.
“I want to see apprenticeship discussed around kitchen tables, in boardrooms, in classrooms and anywhere else that decisions on education, skills, and careers are made.
A doubling in the number of apprentices to 10,000 each year by 2025 is also promised under the action plan.
In a bid to provide more apprentice places, the new €3,000 grant system will be rolled out and additional supports will be offered to those who employ women, lone parents, people with disabilities, and those living in direct provision.
An additional bursary of €2,666 will be extended to employers who currently have 80% apprentices of one gender to encourage greater diversity in trades.
On the flip side, more than 80% of hairdressing apprentices are women, so the same incentive would apply to boost the number of men entering this profession.
A €5,000 bursary programme to help 100 apprentices each year from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as lone parents, people with disabilities, Travellers, and Roma, will also be rolled out.