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Apprentice crisis as 2,400 left in limbo

Nearly 2,400 apprentices are sitting in semi-qualified limbo because of the economic slump.

The collapse of the construction industry has forced droves of tradesmen to lay off their understudies in an effort to save their own businesses.

The apprentices, mainly young men, cannot even look abroad for work because they are six to 12 months work away from officially qualifying.

Labour TD Ciaran Lynch has called on the Government to come up with an alternative for the trainee electricians, engineers, builders and mechanics.

"The difficulty is that these apprentices are based partly on theory and partly on practical application. The apprentices are able to complete their theory but can't get over the game line because of the practical side," Mr Lynch told the Herald.

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment figures show that 2,365 are "in apprenticeship" but not in employment.

Mr Lynch said: "One mother contacted me to say her son had partly completed his apprenticeship but can't even look abroad for work as a carpenter because he's not fully qualified."

A breakdown of the figures showed that 1,656 construction industry workers are hunting for apprenticeships, along with 536 trainee electricians, 68 engineers and 105 mechanics.

Labour is calling for companies, who tender for public contracts, to provide a number of job placement positions.

"In that way, we could ensure that these workers, who are qualified in all but name, can complete all the formalities," Mr Lynch said.