Tuesday 20 March 2018

FAS fails in bid to send trainees overseas

Katherine Donnelly

STATE training agency FAS asked Canada and Australia to bail out redundant Irish apprentices with job opportunities that would allow them to finish their training.

But both countries have been hit with a slowdown in construction -- and FAS has been told there will be no special treatment for Irish apprentices.

The sudden collapse of the Irish construction industry left thousands of apprentices in limbo.

As well as spending time in college in off-the-job training, all apprentices are required to complete on-the-job assessments and work experience could be done abroad if the apprentice has not met the minimum training periods at home.

Apprentices with work experience from abroad can submit an application and portfolio of evidence to the FAS Redundant Apprentice Accreditation Committee for assessment and with a view to the award of their final certificate.

Due to the scale of the crisis affecting the redundant apprentices, FAS made the formal approaches to the authorities in Canada and Australia.

Junior Education Minister Sean Haughey has disclosed the contacts made with a view to supporting redundant apprentices seeking employment abroad.

"However, given the slowdown in the construction sectors, in particular in Canada and Australia, it is understood that priority is being accorded to nationals of those countries in their respective labour markets," he said in reply to a parliamentary question from Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris.

Mr Ferris had asked about plans to enter into bilateral agreements with other states such as Australia and Canada to enable apprentices to finish out their work experience abroad to enable them to qualify.

Currently, there are 7,602 redundant apprentices, with nine in 10 of them from construction and related trades.

FAS has put in place several different initiatives for both on and off-the-job training to assist redundant apprentices to progress through their training.


But despite the measures, the number of redundant apprentices remains high.

There was a slight drop from 7,717 to 7,602 between September and October, but the figure is more than double the 3,078 two years ago.

Some apprentices have been in limbo since the collapse of the construction sector two years ago and have no idea when they will qualify.

Among the measures is a scheme launched last April, which is expected to place up to 500 apprentices with employers with a proven past record of providing consistent systematic training.

Eligible employers receive a subsidy of €250 a week towards the employment costs.

In another, FAS has also linked up with ESB Networks to provide on-the-job training opportunities for up to 400 apprentices over an 18-month period and, to date, 398 apprentices have completed their on-the-job training through this.

Irish Independent

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