Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Education and Skills
190. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase apprenticeships in the construction sector in view of the shortage of skilled staff to address the housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9253/19]
Securing additional skills supply from education and training to meet the needs of the construction sector is a major focus of my Department as part of broader Government actions to increase housing supply and roll out the National Development Plan (NDP) and the National Planning Framework (NPF).
A Construction Sector Working Group has been established to ensure regular and open dialogue between Government and the construction sector in relation to issues that may impact on the successful delivery of the NDP on a value-for-money basis for the State. As set out in the NDP, part of the Construction Group's remit is to consider the supply of necessary skills and enhancing the capacity of the sector. The NDP also highlights the importance of examining the role of Building Information Modelling and adopting other technologies and innovative practices in driving improving productivity and efficiencies. The work of the Group will, therefore have an important role to play in ensuring that the construction sector enhances its capacity to meet infrastructural priorities over the next decade.
The Government is also closely monitoring all aspects of construction skills and labour supply, through the national skills database and through the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), the National Skills Council and the Regional Skills Fora. A study of the construction sector will be undertaken by the EGFSN in 2019.
In responding to specific skill needs for the construction sector, a particular focus of my Department and the education and training sector more generally has been an expansion in apprenticeship recruitment. Apprenticeship is a demand driven educational and training programme, which aims to develop the skills of an apprentice in order to meet the needs of industry and the labour market. Consequently, the number of construction related apprentices being registered is determined by employers within the construction sector. My Department and SOLAS are committed to supporting the registration of apprentices in the construction sector.
There were 3,398 construction related apprenticeship registrations in 2018 which represents an increase of 14% on the 2017 figure of 2,971 and almost 47% on the 2016 figure of 2,316. Registrations on craft apprenticeships are forecast to increase further up to 2020.
The range of apprenticeships on offer is also being expanded to meet the identified skill needs of the sector. Arising from the Apprenticeship Council’s two calls for apprenticeship proposals apprenticeships in Engineering Services Management, scaffolding and senior quantity surveyor apprenticeship are currently being developed into national apprenticeship programmes. The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) is industry lead in the Engineering Services Management and scaffolding apprenticeships and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland is Industry lead in the senior quantity surveyor apprenticeship. These new programmes, once developed, will add to and complement the range of apprenticeships currently on offer in developing the skill needs identified by the sector.