Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey has said that Ireland needs to change the conversation around post second-level education and promote alternative paths. He was speaking as the Government prepares to launch its new Apprenticeship Action Plan later this month. It comes as the CAO system faces a revamp to incorporate apprenticeships and traineeships for the very first time.
Colm Markey commented, “I am delighted that efforts are finally being made to offer school leavers more options but the mindset needs to change and that starts with parents and teachers. We must push the message that apprenticeships are of equal value – and in many cases offer greater career opportunities – than traditional academic routes. The idea that university is the only path to a good job is outdated and simply wrong. I can point to several people in my locality who started as apprentices and are now running hugely successful businesses.”
Last year, in light of the pandemic, the Government announced the Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme, which provides a €3,000 grant to businesses who take on and retain apprentices. To date, over 3,000 applications have been submitted.
Colm Markey added, “The jobs market has been completely upended by the pandemic. Some people are considering a career change while others want to upskill. Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers and they could play a key role in the recovery. Other initiatives like ‘Skills Connect’ or ‘Retrofitting Centres’ offer many opportunities in the green and digital transition. We need people to have the skills to help us deliver our commitments in this area.”
“The world is changing and we need to be prepared. Ireland still lags behind many of its European neighbours when it comes to the uptake of apprenticeships and a lot of that comes down to prejudice. It’s time to change the conversation and promote the benefits, not only for the individual but for society at large.”