Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science | Supply of trade professionals in building sector
To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the extent to which he remains satisfied that the supply of trade professionals to the building sector remains sufficient; the measures envisaged to address any such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science is working with colleagues both in SOLAS, the HEA and other Departments to respond to projections of skills needs in the construction sector and to increase skills supply through the current network of tertiary skills provision. Research into professions linked to tertiary skills has been conducted and is being finalised. SOLAS has drawn up responding action plan and one is being developed to address higher education-sector skills, so that an integrated tertiary response can be delivered to identified and arising skills gaps.
We are increasing the number of apprentices we train and the CAO offering has been changed to ensure that school leavers are aware of all of their options after school. In recent years, annual intake in construction related apprenticeships has steadily been increasing, from a low of 650 in 2010 rising to a record 5,443 new apprentices registered in construction related programmes in 2021. As of August 2022 (the latest full month figures available), there have been 2,907 craft apprenticeship registrations in construction related programmes.
Across Government, several actions are being addressed to ensure that the sector can fully utilise available expertise. For example, the FutureBuilding Initiative was launched last May and aims to spearhead activation and recruitment for the construction sector along with supporting the industry by linking in with education and training opportunities.
Recognising that women are under-represented in the construction sector, measures have been introduced to address this. Last April, for example, the Department announced a new gender-based bursary worth €2,666 for apprenticeship employers. The Department continues to work with SOLAS and other partners to increase the number of women in construction.
Education and training relevant to the skills needed in the retrofitting and construction sector is delivered across the full remit of the tertiary sector system and through mainstream education and training as well as through specific programmes such as Springboard, the Human Capital Initiative and Skillnet Ireland.
A key Government priority is to ensure that we have the skills needed to ensure a sustainable and equitable economy in the future.
Furthermore the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 is being implemented to work towards delivering a flexible and responsive system which is a strong value proposition for employers and potential apprentices, is attractive and easy to engage with and delivers high standards and sought after qualifications.
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