Dáil Éireann - Volume 686 - 01 July, 2009

Written Answers. - Employment Support Services.

Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will introduce a new scheme to support persons in completing their time while unemployed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26663/09]

  Deputy Dara Calleary:My Department and FÁS have been working together over the last number of months to put in place measures to assist up to 3,600 apprentices who have been made redundant due to the current downturn. A number of initiatives to assist such apprentices have been put in place to date:

The Department of Social and Family Affairs immediately on registration refer redundant apprentices to FÁS for assistance.

Following this referral, the FÁS Employment Services and FÁS Services to Business Divisions work in collaboration to provide guidance and support in finding a new employer and in considering other options available in individual cases

FÁS has amended the scheduling rules for off-the-job training so as to permit redundant apprentices to progress to their next off-the-job training, at phases 2, 4 and 6 of the apprenticeship cycle. It is expected that up to 2,000 redundant apprentices will in this way progress to such off-the-job training this year.

FÁS introduced an Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme to provide support for employers to provide on-the-job training to redundant apprentices when they have released their employed apprentice to a scheduled phase 4 and phase 6 off-the-job training phase in the Institutes of Technology. There are currently 199 apprentices participating on the scheme and 35 apprentices have completed their period of rotation with assessments. Employers will again be requested during the June and September 2009 rotation periods to provide redundant apprentices with on-the-job training with assessments.

Léargas have provided funding under the Leonardo da Vinci programme of the European Union to support the placement of 37 redundant apprentices with overseas employers to complete their phase 7 on-the-job training with assessments. Recently 19 redundant apprentices returned from Germany having completed a phase 7 placement with such employers. Another 12 apprentices are due to travel in early August to more work place[824] ments in Germany. Léargas have recently provided additional funding to support the placement of an additional 60 apprentices with overseas employers. Arrangements here are being advanced.

ESB Networks have agreed a programme with FÁS to provide on-the-job training to eligible redundant electrical apprentices at phase 5 and phase 7 of their apprenticeships. This programme will provide up to 400 places over a period of eighteen months. ESB Networks will fund this programme. There are currently 100 redundant such electrical apprentices in employment with ESB Networks and a further 100 will be provided with an opportunity to complete their on-the-job training before the end-year.

Redundant apprentices may also avail of existing specific skills training courses. These are trade related to enhance their employable skills. They may also avail of the range of trade related night courses that are available in FÁS training centres.

The Institutes of Technology are providing up to 700 places per annum on an 11-week certified training programme for those redundant apprentices who have completed their phase 4 training but where an on or off-the-job training opportunity is not currently available for them. The programme will be divided into construction and engineering streams and will provide redundant apprentices with education and training in a number of trade areas that will be complementary to their core apprenticeship disciplines. The programme is expected to commence in September next.

Finally, FÁS is finalising plans that will allow redundant apprentices to undertake phase 7 assessments in situations where an on-the-job assessment opportunities do not at present exist. This will allow such apprentices, who are at the very latter end of their multi-annual training programme, to definitively finish and get the craft certification that attests to having successfully completed their apprenticeships.

I am closely monitoring the overall situation and I am open to positively considering any other approaches that will advance the progress of all apprentices to craft status at every stage of the apprenticeship cycle.