SIPTU Vice-President, Patricia King, has welcomed the publication of the ‘Review of Apprenticeship Training’ which proposes the development of an expanded dual-system of education in Ireland, combining on-the-job and class-based training. Patricia King said: “It is encouraging that the Review recognises the scope for new opportunities across a wide range of sectors including ICT, retail, business administration, childcare and social care, hairdressing and beauty care, the green economy, retro-fitting and sustainable energy.  “These were among the areas which SIPTU highlighted in its submission to the Review Group as suitable for apprenticeships.  The report also stresses the importance of the business community making a commitment to train workers in these and other skills by allowing them to take up apprentices while earning a living wage. “The fact that an apprentice is paid a wage and obtains a formal qualification engenders commitment and expertise in the occupations concerned.  The prospect of remuneration, higher education opportunities and a viable career is crucial in encouraging workers to perform at their best and to realise their full potential.” The review, commissioned by the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, who appointed the review group headed by the chairman of the Labour Court, Kevin Duffy, recommends that employers should pay apprentices in new apprenticeship areas for both the on-the-job and off-the-job periods. It also recommends that progression opportunities to degree level programmes for apprentices are made more transparent for the future. “It is positive that the Review group has recommended a ring-fenced fund to help expand what is currently on offer and drawing on European funding, including from the Youth Guarantee.  There must be no further delay in starting the process of change and we look forward to engaging with SOLAS and the other participants in the proposed Apprenticeship Council at the earliest opportunity,” Patricia King said. “In this context I should also note that SIPTU remains deeply concerned about the recent introduction of fees for apprentices.  This issue must be addressed in order to ensure that apprenticeships remain a viable option for students with limited means and that the developments urged by the Review Group are achieved.”