Sinn Féin has launched a comprehensive Apprenticeship Strategy which aims to increase the amount of places on apprenticeship schemes to 60,000 within 5 years.
I urge the Government to immediately increase the amount of places available on apprenticeship courses and to widen the scope of skills and crafts on offer.
It is noteworthy, given the recent Leaving Certificate results, that third level education is not the option for everyone. There are many other paths to gaining vital skills for the workplace. Apprenticeship places can allow young people to learn, earn and pick up skills that are most apt for the work sector they wish to enter.
We recognise the value of apprenticeships and want to see the scope of courses expanded to 63. This will make the option of an apprenticeship more attractive to those students who would not have traditionally considered this as an option. With an upturn in construction and continuing uncertainty around Brexit, the time is apt to ensure that school leaving students have as many options as possible and that all sectors of the workforce have enough skilled and work-ready young people to fill jobs.
In any discussion about adequate skills for our young people in Mayo, there has to be an equal commitment to bringing jobs to the county. The efforts to bring jobs west of the Shannon are non-existent. Last year only 2.2% of the total amount of IDA supported jobs were located in County Mayo. For a county of Mayo’s size there needs to be a significant increase in IDA site visits and a real urgency from Government to make the jobs a reality.
When we talk about options for young people, we in Sinn Féin want to give them the option of gaining experience and education and moving into employment so they can live and work here in Mayo.