Experts warn we may need to import workers
More apprenticeships will have to be created if industries expect to continue to prosper and meet demands, experts have warned.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said if we don’t deal with the skills shortage issue now, we may have to “import skilled workers from abroad like we did in the past”.
The number of new apprentices being registered has been steadily increasing since 2012. The figure climbed to 2,100 last year, representing a 46pc increase on the previous year. This is almost twice the amount of construction apprenticeships which were registered in 2012.
There are currently 20 apprenticeship programmes under the remit of the CIF and there was an increased participation registered in every course, except for toolmaking. The areas of electrical, carpentry and plumbing have seen the biggest increases. “Construction apprentices grew last year which was good news, but the industry is still far short of the levels of apprentices that will be required,” a spokesperson for the CIF said.
“If numbers do not pick up across the board, we believe the industry will have a skills shortage in the coming years as employment continues to pick up across the sector,” they added.
This skills shortage is not exclusive to the construction industry and the number of candidates registering as apprentice butchers is also reported to be far too low.
John Hickey, the chief executive of the Association of Craft Butchers of Ireland (ACBI), said the butchering sector was also facing a skills shortage, as businesses may not have been “investing as much in apprentices” during the recession as they used to.
“There would have been cost constraints. There wouldn’t have been a need for people,” he said.
“But that has now changed, shops are opening up and they are out there now looking for butchers.”
The ACBI is the only accrediting body for butchers in Ireland and Mr Hickey said that about 60 people “come out through the course every year”.
However, the majority of these are coming from families already in the industry. The ACBI is now working with University College Cork and Teagasc to expand the apprenticeship programme to include more business and manufacturing elements, “creating a whole new career platform”.
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