ERIC NELLIGAN: Aontú Call for a more proactive approach in promoting trades apprenticeships to young people.
Opportunities for students not being realised – Eric Nelligan
Aontú Representative for Castletroy and Annacotty Eric Nelligan feels that young people should be encouraged to consider opportunities in the trades as the country prepares to open up post Covid.
Eric, a Secondary School teacher in St Munchins College, an all-boys schools in Limerick, sees first-hand how the Department of Education prioritises 3rd level college courses even though this focus does not suit all young people. Males with low Leaving Cert points are the most at risk of not completing college courses according to a study by the Higher Education Authority , the study tracked the progress of thousands of students who started third-level courses over a 10-year period. The female completion rate for 3rd level was 81 per cent compared to 70 per cent for males. ‘’A proactive program must be devised to assist schools in identifying students who will struggle in 3rd level and open up pathways in the trade sector. There isn’t a person reading this who hasn’t had to wait a frustrating long period of time to get an electrician, plumber or any trade to do some necessary work’’ says the experienced educator.
Mr Nelligan is making these comments after the government recently announced €20 million in capital funding to expand apprenticeships across the country, from electricians to plumbers, block layers to pipe-fitting. However, Eric feels more will have to be done to retain the tradespeople and encourage more into those careers.
“I feel that there is almost a snobbery around some parents not wanting their sons or daughters to go into trades, they feel third level college is the be all and end all for them. An apprenticeship is a form of further education and all forms of education are equally important” said Mr Nelligan.
The Castletroy based Representative has also warned that Ireland, like Britain, could see the fall in construction apprenticeships threatening our economic recovery. Following a year-on-year decline in construction apprenticeships in Britain, many trades people in Ireland could be head hunted by British firms and as a result the Irish construction industry may struggle to find skilled workers.