SIPTU has called on the Government to immediately commence major investment in new State backed apprenticeship schemes in order to prevent the loss of another generation to emigration. “Our young people are experiencing a crisis which will not only lead to many of them failing to reach their full potential but also threatens the long term viability of our country’seconomic recovery”, said SIPTU Vice-President,Patricia King. According to CSO figures for 2012, there are an estimated 42,000 under 25s in Ireland who are not in employment, education or training. Next month, the Irish Government will joinother EU states in signing off on €6 billion offunding for the Youth Guarantee scheme. This scheme aims to provide all under 25s in the EU with quality work or training within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving education. However, current Government plans toprovide 20,200 new training scheme places next year for under 25s will not be adequate to meet the demand. There are also concerns that some of these schemes may fail to provide the qualityof training necessary to access Youth Guarantee funds. Patricia King said: “SIPTU has submitted to the Government a detailed plan for a new form of national apprenticeship scheme that would provide young people with three years of training in a wide range of jobs in growing sectors of our economy. The time to invest in this scheme is now if we are to halt the loss of a generation of young workers to emigration or despondency.” She added: “Current government schemes aimed at the young jobless and unemployed in general such as JobsBridge and JobsPlus, while decreasing the numbers on the Live Register do little to provideworkers with the skills our economy needs to grow. These schemes can also expose workers to exploitation and may assist in undermining the conditions of employment of other workers. There is also a plethora of education places out there and courses you can do but very few of them are actually linked into the workplace.” The SIPTU submission to the Review Group on Apprenticeship Training in Ireland advocates the expansion of the apprenticeship system in Ireland to areas including hospitality, childcare, administration and the green economy. Itwould be based on a ‘dual system’ of workplace and classroom training that draws on best practice in other EU states. The new Solas training authority could administer and monitor the apprenticeship system at all stages. The SIPTU plan is being given serious consideration by the Government. Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, told RTE Radio on Wednesday, 12th November, that she was considering “re-launching, rebuilding apprenticeships as we know them in Ireland”. She said “new trial traineeships” will “combine periods of study and periods of employment that will lead to contracts of employment.” According to the Minister, Department of Social Protection officials are working with their colleagues in the departments of Education and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on developing the new model of jobs training. The Minister added that her aim is to “actually get employers to be, along with unions and social organisations and advocacy organisations for young people, involved in greater collaboration to actually get young people currently unemployed and on social welfare into education, into training and into work experience.” The SIPTU call for the immediate roll out of the new style apprenticeship scheme comes amid continued controversy concerning government plans to slash Jobseekers Allowance for those under 26 from 1st January 2014. Robert Purfield, of the SIPTU supported Young Workers’ Network, said: “Youth unemployment has been stuck around 30% for four years, despite the majority of the 500,000 who have emigrated since the onset of the economic crisis, being young people. “Eurostat figures show that for every job there are 26 applicants. Introducing this cut will only result in falling wages and conditions for all low paid workers. What young people need is real training for real jobs. This will provide my generation with hope and Ireland with a highly skilled workforce.”