Plan to use ghost estates for training out-of-work apprentices
Abandoned ghost estates may be used as a training ground to help apprentices get skills and take people off the dole.
A plan has been put to Fas, Nama and some of the Irish banks by a British firm, Equity Share Partnership (ESP), which says it has financial backing of €10m for two pilot projects and could eventually have 4,000 workers on these training schemes.
They are in talks to begin work on schemes at Bandon, Co Cork, and Kilminchy, Co Laois, to kick-start the initiative.
"We will take people off the housing list and the live register, put them to work on these ghost estates with properly trained instructors, and at the end we would give them an option to buy or rent completed houses," sid Michael Litman of ESP.
He said those employed on the schemes would get a chance to finish an apprenticeship or learn a new skill -- and at the same time help to end a major social blight on the countryside.
The British company, which has used the model before, is looking at areas where there is business activity and where local authorities will confirm that there is a demand for housing.
"The only option for estates which were built out in the middle of nowhere is to flatten them -- if nobody wants to live in these locations what's the point of having them?" said Mr Litman.
"Our aim is to get the two pilot projects under way by September and then we will see where it would go from there," he said.
"Basically what is on offer is a chance for people who have no chance of owning a home to get involved in this project, they would work to finish the houses and then they would be able to rent or possibly even buy the houses when they're finished off."
One of the major problems arising from the collapse of the construction industry is that thousands of building apprentices, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and plasterers have been abandoned, with nowhere to complete their practical training.
According to Mr Litman, partially finished houses in ghost estates would be an ideal training ground for such people, as well as those who wanted to get off council housing lists.
Studies have already shown that Ireland has the worst apprenticeship record in Europe. The apprenticeship figures also mirror the youth unemployment rate with Ireland having one of the worst unemployment figures in the EU with 32pc between the ages of 16 and 25 out of work.