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Construction companies throughout the southern region of Ireland are joining forces to increase the number of young people entering apprenticeships in the sector. CIF members are working to create co-ops whereby a number of construction companies choose to work collaboratively to provide training for new apprentices throughout the industry.
The Shared Apprenticeship Scheme differs from the traditional model in two ways. Firstly, it allows direct employers and co-op members, who may not be specialists in the appointed trade but employ skilled subcontractors, to arrange for the training required under the guidance of the co-op. And secondly, co-op members will be able to move apprentices between their companies to ensure continuity of engagement and training, should one area, or particular project, become more or less busy than another.
John O’Shaughnessy, MD, Clancy, and Chair of the CIF Manpower, Education & Training sub-Committee, says that they are seeking the support of construction companies throughout the southern region and across Ireland for the Shared Apprenticeship Scheme.
“This is an industry effort to grow the numbers of apprentices registering to the wet trades, which are sadly lagging at this time. In 2015/16 my company was part of a pilot of this sharing initiative, and we deemed it to be a success,” he says. “Now, SOLAS has agreed to extend the initiative, and I am calling on members to form consortia of three to four companies and start registering apprentices under the scheme. This is a great opportunity for the industry to seek to address the low numbers in the wet trades.”
Always a Need for Trades
“The output of the sector will increase substantially in 2019, and we need more people to consider a career in construction. However, despite the upturn in construction, there are not enough young people considering a trade.
“The wet trades in particular – such as plastering, painting and bricklaying – are struggling with apprenticeship numbers. The industry is changing significantly due to the impact of technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), but there will always be a need for these trades, and they provide an excellent career opportunity for young people who wish to work in construction. There is incredible pride amongst tradespeople in their work and a great sense of satisfaction in the buildings they help to create and maintain. If you like working with your hands, these trades can provide an exceptionally rewarding career where every day you see the impact of your skill on the environment around you.”
Dermot Carey, Director Safety and Training, CIF, says Ireland faces the challenge of generating the 112,000 additional employees required up to 2020 to deliver the targets set out in both the housing strategy and the public capital programme.
“There is an urgent need for Government and industry to collaborate in attracting more people into the industry and to invest in construction skills training. The alternative is that we will fail to meet these targets, our housing crisis will continue, and our infrastructure deficit will stall economic progress. This is a huge threat to Ireland and the long-term capacity of the construction industry.”