DUBLIN City Council is in line to take on unemployed apprentices as it revealed its workforce fell by 554 last year.
Despite the drop in numbers, the local authority's payroll costs increased by over 3pc.
The council has been in discussions with State training agency FAS with a view to allowing redundant apprentices to complete their qualifications at the council.
FAS places trainee workers with "eligible employers" so that they can finish their internships. The move would provide a boost to the city council while also giving valuable experience to young workers.
Despite the reduction in its staff numbers, the council's payroll costs jumped in 2009.
"Expenditure relating to pay incurred by Dublin City Council amounted to €475.2m in 2009 as against €460.1m in 2008," a spokeswoman told the Herald.
"The basis for this increase reflects the numbers of staff who retired, either through the routine scheme or incentivised scheme, and for whom a gratuity was payable in addition to regular salary/pension payment.
"While numbers of staff employed have decreased by 554, the number of pensioners over the period has increased by 416," she added.
In a report, the council's head of human resources, Frank Kelly, said, at national level, the county and city managers' association (CCMA) has "been engaging with FAS ... concerning a scheme to assist unemployed apprentices and professional redundancies/layoffs".
He added: "Dublin City Council has also been in local discussions with FAS in an attempt to expedite a pilot scheme to allow redundant apprentices to complete their qualifications.
"These local talks culminated in a meeting between human resources and senior FAS staff on 22nd April 2010."
Mr Kelly pointed out the ESB "currently engage in a similar scheme with FAS".
He said discussions have taken place between HR staff and the relevant ESB personnel to discuss details on how the scheme is actually working.
The human resources chief added that the council was "awaiting some relevant documentation from the ESB which should prove useful in assessing the feasibility of engaging with the new scheme".
Announcing the redundant apprentice scheme in late 2008, then Enterprise Minister Mary Coughlan said: "The purpose of the scheme is to give redundant apprentices the opportunity to complete the on-the-job phase of their apprenticeship."
She added: "Employers participating in the scheme are required to pay the apprentice the agreed industry rates for the specific apprenticeship trade and FAS will make a contribution of €340 per week towards employment costs incurred based on a 39 hour working week."