Deputy Martin Kenny has urged the government to do much more to help apprentices hit by the cost of living crisis. His comments came as Sinn Féin published the results of the party’s survey of apprentices, which gathered the views of almost 350 apprentices about their experiences of pay and working conditions.
“The results of this survey expose the shocking way in which apprentices in Sligo and Leitrim, and across the state have been let down by this government. Many are under huge financial pressure and cannot afford essential things such as petrol, buying groceries or putting the heating on.Their stories are shocking and show the government must act urgently to stand up for apprentices. Of those in Sligo who answered the survey, one apprentice in particular highlighted the difficulties in just making ends meet week to week. He said:“With the backlog and the cost of living not matching the weekly wage, it makes it very difficult to survive in today’s Ireland.”
“Despite working full-time, many apprentices are on very low pay- often below minimum wage. As many people told us, travel and accommodation grants simply don’t match the real costs these bring for apprentices. This means they are being put under huge financial pressure by rising costs. 84% of apprentices told Sinn Féin that they have had to cut down on essentials such as buying groceries or turning the heating on. 72% report having had to take on debt since the start of their apprenticeship. Almost half said they are worried they may have to give up their apprenticeship, simply because they cannot afford to keep going. This would be devastating for a range of industries, and would have a major impact on construction and retrofitting in particular.
“Sinn Féin would ramp-up funding to invest in the apprenticeship system and support apprentices. Last year, we called for a 52-million-euro investment in apprenticeship to head off some of these pressures. Based on the findings of this survey Sinn Féin will bring forward additional targeted supports and reform proposals as part of our alternative budget. The government should listen to apprentices and ensure they take real steps, including in budget 2023, to invest in young people and the craft apprenticeship model.
“Sinn Féin would also introduce a cash payment of between €100-200 for hard-pressed workers. We would freeze rents and put a month’s rent back into renters’ pockets. We would cut childcare costs by two thirds. This package of measures would make a real difference to apprentices’ lives.”