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16 August 2018

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Sinn Féin publishes proposals for ‘real reform’ of the apprenticeship system

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Business, Innovation and Enterprise Maurice Quinlivan TD

“The government is currently missing its own targets when it comes to reforming the apprenticeship system. In 2017 just 391 people took part in newly established apprenticeship programmes, compared to the government’s target of 800." - Maurice Quinlivan TD

Sinn Féin has today published its policy proposals to reform the apprenticeship system in Ireland. The party’s spokesperson for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD has announced proposals to increase the number of people in apprenticeships to 60,000 by 2023, whilst also branding the current government’s reform plans as “unambitious, uninspiring and unacceptably slow”.

The document outlines Sinn Féin’s proposals to reform the system in ways such as; trebling the number of apprenticeship programmes currently available alongside focusing on plans to increase the female & people with disabilities participation rates within the programmes. 

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan said;

 “The government is currently missing its own targets when it comes to reforming the apprenticeship system. In 2017 just 391 people took part in newly established apprenticeship programmes, compared to the government’s target of 800.

 “In addition, only nine of the promised fifteen new apprenticeship programmes were introduced last year.”

 Sinn Féin has also outlined the benefits of an all-Ireland apprenticeship system and the benefits that would come with including trade unions in the development and governance of the programmes. The document reiterates Sinn Féin’s aim to abolish student contribution fees for apprentices and details how the party will promote apprenticeship programmes as another tertiary education choice.

 Apprenticeship is a tried and proven way for employers to develop highly skilled workers for their company and industry by using a mixture of coursework and practical on the job learning. Record numbers of students are attending third level education, but with this route not being suitable for everyone, Sinn Féin wants to create more alternative routes for young people.

Deputy Quinlivan continued;

“Across Ireland we lack significant alternative opportunities for young people to pursue other education. We want to build on the success of the traditional craft trades in Ireland such as plumbing, bricklaying and plastering, and expand this way of learning, into a host of new fields.

“Apprenticeships in fields such as green energy, retail, hospitality and financial services are hugely popular in other European countries. We aim to expand the system into these areas to create different opportunities for all young people including more females and people with disabilities.”

 Currently, most apprenticeships are aimed towards male participants with just 160 out of 13,589 people in apprenticeship programmes across the state being female in 2018. In addition, the physically demanding nature of the current available apprenticeships has resulted in just 1.7% of total apprentices in 2016 being people with disabilities.


Sinn Féin aims to increase investment in apprenticeships to over €350 million per annum within five years. 

The Limerick City TD, Deputy Quinlivan has said that this will “fund the trebling of the number apprenticeship programmes and provide places for 60,000 apprentices”.

Deputy Quinlivan continued: “€5,166,000 of investment will be required over five years for the development of 63 new apprenticeship programmes, bringing the total number of craft and new courses to 100.

“Ireland’s allocation from the EU for training and education of the young is €68 million. Fine Gael was forced to return €19.8 million of this allocation in 2016, as they failed to submit a payment application.

“Sinn Féin will ensure all EU monies allocated to Ireland would be fully utilised, to benefit the education and training of our young people. To date, none of this money has been drawn down from the EU.”

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