Dáil Éireann - Volume 465 - 21 May, 1996

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - CERT Courses.

17. Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the number of persons who completed CERT courses since 1990; the estimated number of [1499] these participants who are now employed in the hotel, catering and tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10268/96]

Mr. O'Sullivan: In the period 1990 to 1995, over 63,000 persons completed CERT training courses, of whom approximately 36,000 were on release from employment in the industry to participate in continuing training while the remaining 27,000 were recent school leavers or unemployed.

The most recent surveys carried out by CERT covering the period between 1982 and 1994 indicate that 76 per cent of full-time trainees are still employed in the industry, while approximately 73 per cent of trainees from the ranks of the unemployed are still in employment or undertaking further training.

The importance of providing high quality training for new entrants and the existing workforce in tourism has been fully recognised in the EU Operational Programme for Tourism, 1994-99. It is envisaged that a total of £110 million will be invested in tourism training over the life of the programme and that over 72,000 will be trained. This almost doubles the number trained under the last operational programme.

Mr. O'Malley: Will the Minister express a view on the quality of the training and whether it is adequate? Would he agree it would take a training period of eight years to produce a top class chef? What is the average training period for a chef under the CERT course?

An Leas-Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 17 is mainly a statistical one. We are going somewhat beyond the bounds of the question before us.

Mr. O'Sullivan: Some people who already work in the industry and who have undergone a great deal of training come back to train in specialist areas of cooking, while others who are unemployed train for a short period and are [1500] given a certificate. If people want to upgrade skills and enhance their chances of full-time employment, their option is open to them under the CERT system. That is how it works.

Mr. O'Malley: Is the Minister satisfied with the quality of the courses?

Mr. O'Sullivan: The best judges of that would be the employers.

Mr. Andrews: It would be the customer.

Mr. O'Sullivan: If the employer does not attract customers, he will not employ these people. Some 76 per cent of full-time trainees are still employed in the industry, while 73 per cent of those in short-term training come from the ranks of the unemployed. That is a fair indication of the success of the scheme.

Mr. Killeen: I thank the Minister for this useful information as regards numbers. Are figures available on the number of people trained by the plethora of other agencies, including FAS? Who oversees standards in those courses?

Mr. O'Sullivan: The other agencies to which the Deputy referred include the regional technical colleges and the Shannon College of Hotel Management. I imagine they have their system of measurement. This question deals specifically with CERT courses, not the other agencies. Given the reputation which the regional technical colleges and the Shannon College of Hotel Management have acquired, it is safe to say they are held in high esteem by the industry.

Mr. Andrews: In case anybody believes there is something wrong with CERT courses, I would like to make it clear that they have produced extremely good hotel people. Young men and women have been advantaged as a result of their involvement with CERT.

[1501] From my perspective and little knowledge of the industry, we have very good hotels run by extremely good managers and helpful staff. Without sounding sycophantic, CERT provides good courses and people emerging from them are very well trained. It is to the advantage of our tourism industry that these courses continue.

Mr. O'Sullivan: I welcome the Deputy's remarks.